Skip to main content

Local Events

Kuaotunu Matariki Event

Residents and visitors of Kuaotunu on the Coromandel Peninsula were out in force for yet another successful Matariki event early last Saturday morning.
 |  Alastair Brickell  | 

Alastair Brickell adjusts his telescope to focus on Alpha Centauri

Despite the 5am start, what is rapidly becoming an increasingly popular ‘must do’ annual gathering was attended by well over 80 people meeting together for a common cause in the dark.

Everyone enjoyed a catch up with friends and neighbours while munching tasty sausages and Mars bars over cups of hot coffee and MILO in the dawn gloom.

As in previous years, the event was sponsored by the Kuaotunu Dark Sky Trust which is in the process of establishing an internationally recognised Dark Sky Community over much of Kuaotunu and its surrounds.

The goal is to preserve the uniquely dark skies we all enjoy but which are gradually being eroded by excessively bright and increasingly numerous exterior lights. Simple actions like tilting these down so they don’t spill light upwards which leads to ‘light pollution’ and keeping them not too bright and ideally of a warm, white colour all help.

Among the faces dimly recognised in the dark were local TCDC staff – area manager, Heather Bruce and elected members Deli Connell and Bess Kingi who were joined by Hadley Dryden, the head of Destination Hauraki Coromandel who had made the early morning trip to be part of the gathering.

Pauline Stewart from The Coromandel Informer was there with the camera.

Destination Hauraki Coromandel has managed to arrange access to funding of $50,000, to get the project through the council process and all levels of TCDC staff have been supportive and encouraging, from the Mayor downwards.

We have a lot of local support. I thank all of them and particularly Paul Cook, Sec. of Opito Ratepayers, Ed Scorgie from Opito with his telescope and his son, Tom, who every year hands out news sheets and graces us with a Mars bar. and Cara Jordan as the other trustee… and of course all the locals (and local media) who support us every year.

Despite a rather cloudy sky for much of the event, everyone enjoyed looking through the large telescopes set up for the morning. We had Edward Scorgie’s telescope, and one from Stargazers.

People lined up for a brief view through the lens and caught brief views of our closest star apart from the Sun, Alpha Centauri, a lovely half Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Rigel. This star is also known as Puanga and is used by many South Island iwi to start the New Year as their equivalent to our Matariki stars which are hard to see so far south. We even got to see a rare morning pass of over a dozen of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites all following the same track across the dawn sky moving at 8km a second – speedy centurions, and we could also examine a piece of his unusual, exploded, launch pad material that I had brought back from my recent visit to USA to experience the complete eclipse of the sun recently. A small meteorite from one of my travels to Russia was also a point of interest to our community gathering.

The organisers thank so many adults and children for making the early start and helping to support the Kuaotunu Dark Sky Trust in their endeavours.

Paul Cook, Secretary of Opito Ratepayers, was a fine sausage chef