How Kiwis around the country celebrated Matariki

Mānawatia a Matariki - Happy Matariki!

The rise of the Matariki star cluster signals the start of a new year, according to Māori and many other indigenous peoples across the world.

It's a time to honour the past, celebrate the present and look to the future.

Friday marks just the second year Matariki has been marked as a public holiday for all people in Aotearoa New Zealand - and celebrations were in full swing right across the motu.

The sound of karakia filled the air early on Friday in Rotorua, where hundreds gathered to mark the Māori New Year.

And a sacred hautapu ceremony was held to offer kai to the stars above.

Among those in attendance were some of the most distinguished leaders in Te Ao Māori (Māoridom).

"Matariki encourages us to acknowledge our past, celebrate our present, and we must celebrate the fact that we are alive, that we are here today celebrating, and the future," prominent Māori academic Sir Pou Temara told Newshub.

In Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Kiwis came together under the stars to herald the rising of the Matariki cluster.

Iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei led karakia and waiata on its whenua at Takaparawhau/Bastion Point.

They acknowledged those who've passed on, and welcomed the promise of a new year ahead.

Some of our country's leaders also put aside their differences to join in the celebrations.

"It's just wonderful to be up here with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, celebrating this amazing day, and I'm proud to be part of a Government that made Matariki a public holiday," said Carmel Sepuloni, the Deputy Prime Minister.

"It was a special morning wasn't it. It was absolutely wonderful to see Kiwis coming together, celebrating Matariki, a really great time of celebration and reflection," National leader Chris Luxon told Newshub.

And those celebrations are taking place right across the motu - from an incredible crochet display in Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, to a kai and light festival in Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington.

Kiwis have truly embraced this year's theme of returning to their whānau and people.

"We're out with the mokopuna here in Te Whanganui a Tara to enjoy a beautiful day and the start of a new year," one whānau told Newshub.

"This morning I got up and came to the Wharewaka here, and joined a crew  of wahine toa to have a paddle on one of our waka," said one woman on the waterfront.

"I'm just connecting with the people I love - that you don't see often as well. You can just bring them over and have some food."

They're definitely making the most of our second official Matariki holiday.

Watch the video below to see a glimpse of the Matariki celebrations in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland on Friday.