AUCKLAND, New Zealand, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people turned out on Saturday night to watch Vector Lights bring Auckland's iconic Harbour Bridge to life to celebrate the beginning of Matariki (Maori New Year).
Matariki Festival 2021 begins on Saturday June 19 and runs through until Sunday July 11.
This year's Matariki Festival promises to be a great lead-in for the official recognition of Matariki in 2022, when it becomes a public holiday.
Vector Lights for Matariki Festival on Auckland Harbour Bridge were shining bright with a new light show on Saturday night.
The specially-composed Vector Lights opening show sequence wowed local residents watching and listening from different vantage points throughout the city.
Vector Lights use renewable energy technology, stored through 630 solar panels, to light the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Each of the 90,000 LEDs added to the bridge can be individually programmed, allowing for an almost infinite array of designs and effects.
Through the light show, the eight-lane, 61-year-old Auckland Harbour Bridge has been used to further enhance and celebrate Auckland's major events, becoming an attraction for local residents and visitors since 2018.
Each year Matariki Festival is brought to the city by Auckland Council, in partnership with Maori tribes.
"Matariki is a time for friends and family to come together to reflect on the past and celebrate new beginnings ... The festival is an opportunity for Aucklanders to experience and enjoy the stories and traditions of Matariki ..." Auckland mayor Phil Goff said.
Other events for this year's festival include Manu Aute Kite Day, dynamic live kapa haka song and dance performances and open-air music and food event in Auckland, according to Auckland Council.
Matariki is a special occasion in the New Zealand calendar which marks the start of the Maori New Year.
Matariki is a star cluster which reappears in the early morning sky in New Zealand during the mid-winter months. In Maori culture, this is a time of celebration and reflection.
The star cluster is well known throughout the world and at different times of the year can be seen around the globe. It is one of the brightest clusters in the sky, containing hundreds of member stars.