Early Easter morn, not a cloud in the sky.
Bright moon with your gathering of stars.
This is Paenga-whawha, eleventh lunar month
of the Maori year. After the sun gets up
people will bend in the fields, bend following
the night when Whanui (Vega), in our sky appears.
Kumara (sweet potato) crops will be piled to the side of the rows.
The Mata paheru (Priest) then, who will give the rites over
the first kumara lifted. The digging will begin when the sun
is well up. But when, as the sun reaches its zenith, the mornings’
diggings will be taken to the store-pit.
In the store-pit two people will stack the kumara. They
must have good eyes and examine each kumara carefully
for flaws. Nothing must contaminate the years’ store.
I have stood in awe at the edges of ancient rua (store-pits)
dug to take crops for several hundreds and some say three
thousand people of this tribe and more. And I look up for
Whanui knowing I will not see such a star in daylight hours.
With the puka (soft decayed suitable wood) dried, crumbled,
and spread for the safe keeping of our kumara we await the
twelfth month when Matariki (Pleiades) appears come June.
The once hidden histories will be explored and celebrated.
Again it will be a joyous time. Our Maori New Year moving
as it does on the ancient knowledge of stars.
Benita H. Kape © 3.4.2015
Acknowledgement: I wish to acknowledge Astronomy NZ
for much of the information in this poem.