Taatai Arorangi (Māori Astronomy)
"In bygone days, Tohunga Maori ((Māori wise men and women) with a special knowledge of the stars spent much time studying the stars. The movement of the nga whetu (the eternal shining ones) followed a seasonal cycle, as did the Earth below, so that their rising and setting marked the progression of the seasons. Certain stars were said to bring the seasons into existence and to send down to the earth the foods that became available at the times of the year associated with them. Such links were the basis of a celestial calendar.
In common with many ancient cultures, tohunga looked for the rising (rebirth of the stars from the fires of Te Ra - the Sun) at dawn, just before sunrise. For many Polynesian groups the appearance of Matariki (the Pleiades), a pretty star cluster in the constellation of Taurus, towards dawn (late May in Aotearoa - New Zealand), marked the beginning of the New Year. Matariki is usually a woman. The seven stars that could be seen with the naked eye were considered to be Matariki and her six daughters.
The end of the year was identified with Matariki’s disappearance in the west as darkness approached. This was the direction and time of day traditionally associated with death and sorrow. The start of the New Year was marked by her reappearance in the north-east before dawn. The east was associated with light, life and wellbeing."
"For millennia people have gazed in awe at Stonehenge and other great stone circles, often totally unaware of how these structures were used.
Now a full-scale working adaptation of Stonehenge has been built in Aotearoa, allowing all New Zealanders to experience the wonders of stone circles for themselves.
Situated in the Wairarapa countryside, a short distance from Wellington, Stonehenge Aotearoa is a window into the past where the visitor can rediscover the knowledge of their ancestors. It incorporates ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Indus Valley astronomy, Polynesian navigation, and Celtic and Maori starlore."
located in the Wairarapa countryside approximately 10 minutes drive from the town of Carterton
Availability: see website
Phone: +64 6 377 1600
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Stonehenge Aotearoa was built by members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society with the support of the Royal Society of New Zealand. The vision for Stonehenge Aotearoa was to create a practical open-sky observatory inspired by, and built on a similar scale to, the famous Stonehenge in England. However, it is not a replica of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge Aotearoa is designed specifically for its location in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s North Island. It combines modern scientific knowledge with ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Celtic, Polynesian and Maori starlore. It is used to teach maramataka (the calendars of time and seasons). The stones also form a Polynesian star compass and can be used to teach navigation.