Sustaining Culture

Over the past few weeks we have as a school, been very focused on the ASB Polyfest.  While we completely supported the decision to cancel of the final day of the event following the tragedy in Christchurch, we, as an organising committee, were also disappointed that our young people would not get their opportunity to perform.  

It is therefore, been great to see the Niuean Stage mobilise and organise for their students to be able to perform today. I’m sitting at school working, while the Niuean stage groups exercise their tino rangatiratanga and run their final six performances.  The hall is jam-packed with parents and families celebrating their young people on stage!  I am so honoured that we were able to open our doors and allow our facilities for them to give their students the perfect opportunity to perform. 

I am excited about the opportunity for Kia Aroha College, working alongside James Cook High School, to ensure the final day of the Maori Stage is able to take place on Saturday 6th April at the Vodafone Events Centre.  

Fortunately for our school, our Diversity group, our Tongan team and Samoan performances were all able to happen during the first few days of the festival.

These events are true examples of when our schools Designated Character really means something …

  • Providing an environment where cultural identity, custom, language and knowledge is the norm,

  • enabling young people to become catalysts of change in their communities and society,

  • ensuring that young people will be secure in their knowledge about their culture and identity to enable them to participate in the wider world and

  • involving parents and wider whanau/family in the education of their children, in culturally familiar ways that are empowering.

I had the privilege of representing Te Akatea – Maori Principals Association at the recent He Au Honua Indigenous Research Conference in Maui – Hawaii.  I presented a workshop, along with a colleague from Mokoia Intermediate in Rotorua, about shaping our own school to fit the needs of our students and our community and being able to exercise our right to put language and culture at the heart of everything we do in our school.  I listened to other indigenous educators pleading with their respective governments for indigenous education practices to be normalised in their communities.  It is not until we are in environments like this, that we truly understand how lucky we are at Kia Aroha College and how progressive our school is.   I think that sometimes we become complacent and take these things for granted – because being Maori, Samoan and Tongan and living AS Maori, Samoan and Tongan is so normal in our school.

My Hawaii trip and the Polyfest events have really confirmed my resolve to be much more mindful of the important role our school plays in the wider Maori and Pasifika communities and to ensure that all of our own Kia Aroha whanau recognise the that being part of this critical, culturally sustaining whanau is such a privilege.