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Paul Bonner with one of his rockets

At Dingwall Trust, special occasions are always times of learning and experiencing as well as celebration. The recent Matariki period, or Māori New Year, was no exception.

In their Garden to Table sessions, Dingwall children and young people got some hands-on science lessons from Paul Bonner, a member of the Auckland Astronomical Society and the NZ Rocketry Association, who passionately presented on all things rocket and Matariki related.

Children and young people also got the chance to see and handle Paul’s large rocket collection, one could fly as high as 4km! Things got even more exciting as the teams launched their own water rocket. This involved filling a plastic bottle with water. Air was then pumped in. The team learned as the air compressed, this built pressure until the rocket zoomed into the sky, upwards of 20 metres.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises above the horizon in mid-winter and heralds the start of a new year. It is an important time for Māori to take stock of the past year and prepare for the new. The brightness of the stars is often said to foretell how successful the next season’s harvest will be.