Winter solstice sunrise 2019
In Auckland, the winter solstice was at 0354 this morning. I was asleep at that time, and awoke enough before the sunrise that I was able to get to where I had chosen to watch the sunrise in time to witness it. Pukekawa is one of the oldest volcanoes in Auckland, and remnants of the tuff ring, the volcanic cone and the filled in crater, have been formed into the Auckland Domain, where the Auckland Museum and Institute are based. I went to one of the highest points in front of the (old) main entrance to the Museum where at this time of the year I could watch the rising of the sun from behind clouds just above the horizon.
Getting there was a little more complicated than I had anticipated, as there was a road blockage, and hundreds of cars already parked there. The cars had brought a mix of celebrants and observers to the height of Pukekawa. Some, like me, had come to see the winter solstice sunrise. Others had come to observe a different ceremony. A ceremony to mark Matariki.
Matariki is celebrated by Maori as the start of the New Year. It is marked by the reappearance in the sky of what is known in northern hemisphere star charts as the Pleiades. This star cluster symbolises the start of the new year much as the winter solstice does for northern hemisphere culture.
The extra for today shows a circle of (I presume) Nga Puhi (the local Tangata whenua)with three leaders standing just outside the circle at different points. In front of the sunkissed museum front (the old front). There are many watchers; some Maori, many Pakeha. Throughout the time I was there, I heard the calls (to Matariki) and some chants.
About 500 m away, close to the duck ponds, was a marquee and signs announcing Matariki. I bypassed that activity both going to the museum, and on my way out again. There were many more people at that place. Walkers (with and without dogs), runners, cyclists passed by. Many appeared to pay no real attention to the events taking place.
It was humbling to be a quiet observer of a meeting of cultures all celebrating the continuation of the annual cycle of renewal