Awa Press Media Release
14TH FEB 2005
New Zealand’s very own Stonehenge! – A major new tourist attraction.
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Stonehenge Aotearoa, an open-sky observatory, inspired by and built on a similar scale to the famous Stonehenge on
England’s Salisbury Plains has been built in the Wairarapa countryside (1.5 hours from Wellington). Unique in New
Zealand and internationally as a place of science and wonder this stunning new attraction officially opened on 12
February 2005. The story of and background to remarkable astronomical project is told in Awa Press’
exclusive/quintessential guide book Stonehenge Aotearoa: The Complete Guide.
A modern day version of the 4000-year-old English monument as it might have been, had it been built in the Southern
hemisphere, Stonehenge Aotearoa, is backed by the New Zealand Government and Royal Society of the New Zealand, and is
the brain child of members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society.
Taking well over 1000 hours of surveying and astronomical calculation plus a year of construction, Stonehenge Aotearoa
combines Celtic and Babylonian astronomy, Polynesian navigation, and Maori starlore with modern scientific knowledge. It
can be used to study the turning of the seasons – Nagaa huri o te waatu and the turning of the stars – Ngaahuri o ngaa
whetu and to find equinoxes and solstices, eclipses and constellations.
The project manager of Stonehenge Aotearoa, Richard Hall with fellow astronomers Kay Leather and Geoffrey Dobson have
written Stonehenge Aotearoa: The Complete Guide to explain the how, why, what’s and when’s of the New Zealand’s own
Stonehenge. It takes you on a tour around the henge explaining: the significance of the giant stones and other features
such as the central obelisk; how to use Stonehenge Aotearoa to observe the sun, moon and stars, eclipses and many other
wonders of the night sky. In addition the guide book also includes fascinating information about the ancient original
Stonehenge in England and other prehistoric stone circles around the world.
Richard Hall is one of New Zealand’s leading astronomers. He is also senior public programmes officer at Wellington’s
Carter Observatory, founding member of the Phoenix Astronomical Society and author of the bestselling How to Gaze at the
Southern Stars. Kay Leather has co-written The Work of the Gods with Richard/ Kay and Geoffrey Dobson are also both
fellow astronomers and members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society.
Stonehenge Aotearoa: The Complete Guide by Richard Hall, Geoffrey Dodson and Kay Leather
1st February. RRP $? Available from all good bookstores and www.awapress.co.nz