Ruapotaka Marae Visit

May 10, 2016 at 3:04 PM

The Girls’ School students who visited Ruapotaka Community Marae in Glen Innes have a short personal history. They are between the ages of 7 and 10 years and were born around 2006, when Helen Clark was Prime Minister, ‘Sione’s Wedding’ was a box office hit and Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett bookended the All Blacks backline. For some that may seem a long time ago, but the girls certainly don’t have years of experiences to share, unlike the iwi of Ruapotaka Marae. However, as Daughters of Kentigern they are part of much older community. This they do have in common with the marae elders, and these collective histories were united during the culturally enriching trip.

The 70 girls from Years 4-6 along with 20 parents and teachers were guided into the wharenui, the marae’s meeting house, with a karanga, or call. During the powhiri, Year 4 teacher, Mr Andrew Finn gave a whaikorero (speech), thanking the kaumatua for welcoming the girls onto the marae and giving them a brief immersion in Maori culture. Mr Finn explained the history of Saint Kentigern and played guitar as the girls sang two beautiful waiata.

The School’s last visit to the marae had resonated strongly with a number of students, and subsequently a kapa haka group was formed. The group now has 40 keen girls involved, with many on today’s trip who were able to lead their fellow students in performing the first song they learnt, called ‘Rona.’ To recognise the special relationship between the marae and the School and as a show of appreciation for the warm hospitality, a framed photo of the kapa haka group was offered as koha. The formal proceedings were concluded with the girls exchanging the traditional hongi greeting with their hosts. The kaumatua explained that because the girls had been part of the customary powhiri, they are now spiritually connected with the marae and welcome to come back to visit at any time.

The girls then split into two groups to be taught tikanga Maori. The methods and protocol of flax weaving were explained as the girls created their own putiputi (flower). The second group were led through the actions and words of more waiata, which added to their vocabulary and singing repertoire!

The trip provided practical experience to support the girls’ classroom learning. As part of the Middle School social science unit, each class has a different topic of enquiry, such as the history of Auckland and what it means to be a New Zealander. Being on the marae was a special way to reinforce the girls’ knowledge and expand their understanding of our unique Maori culture!



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