Maori and Pasifika Cultural Evening

September 29, 2017 at 11:54 AM

Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Talofa lava, Fakalofa lahi atu, Malo lelei, and a warm welcome to you all! 

When we talk about Saint Kentigern’s cultural heritage, we tend to look to our traditional past with deep ties to Scotland.  Each year we celebrate these ties when our Pipes and Drums step out to represent Saint Kentigern, with focus given to our annual Ceilidh at the College, Celtic Day at the Boys’ School and Flora MacDonald Day at the Girls’ School. 

Alongside our traditional past, we also celebrate the cultural heritage that reflects the growing diversity of our student cohort today. Each year, our Middle College ESOL students present a Cultural Day with the focus on Asian languages and customs, drawing a large number of students and staff to share in the experience. Languages Week gives focus to French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese customs – the four modern languages taught at the College. Another exceptional experience is offered by our Maori and Pacific Island students at their Cultural Evening. 

For those of us who are fortunate enough to have travelled to a Pacific Island, we know there is nothing more entertaining than being engaged in an island’s cultural concert. They are colourful, energetic, meaningful, all-inclusive and are bound to bring on the smiles! 

After a few years’ hiatus, the College Cultural Group reformed early last year, quickly swelling in number to represent a diverse range of nationalities from the Pacific Island nations and beyond. The group is a cross section of all ages drawn from throughout the Middle and Senior Colleges who were very proud to come together last night and perform for family and friends! The Cultural Evening was their chance to give a performance in public and share a little of their own customs. It was an important showcase of Saint Kentigern’s diverse cultures and a celebration of Maori and Pasifika youth. 

The evening began with a powhiri. This custom traditionally served to discover whether the visiting party was friend or foe and acts as the formal welcoming of guests by the hosts. The karanga was called by parent, Jani Wilson, with the manuhiri in return by Old Collegian, Amorangi Malesala. Valance Yates (Year 11) and Jade Stewart (Year 9) both delivered a whaikorero (formal speech); each of them speaking with superb self-assurance. The whaikorero were interspersed with waiata from the kapa haka group, firstly ‘He Honere,’ finishing with the much loved ‘E papa Waiari’ led by Amorangi. 

Mrs Suzanne Winthrop, Principal Senior College welcomed all the guests, saying that this celebration is one she looks forward to, knowing the passion that is poured into each of the items. The night was hosted by Year 12 students, Briana Baker and Tevita Ahokovi who did a fantastic continuity job, keeping the audience informed and entertained from start to finish, including an audience ‘ice breaker’ – an invited audience dance-off that took on a distinct island flavour! 

The first item brought all our kapa haka group back on stage to perform a set. This group is largely made up of Middle College students of all cultural backgrounds who meet regularly to learn action songs. Most recently, they performed at the Wearable Arts Show. They sang Tutira Mai, followed by a haka from the boys and finishing with the well-known action song, Poi E, from the girls.

The evening entailed both individual and group performances. Lively Nili, the winner of last year’s SKC’s Got Talent, and Chloe Haerewa both stepped up to sing solo, while Tevita was joined by Solomon Fifita on guitar for a double act. Bella Allan Moetaua represented the Cook Islands and Makerita Isaako, Samoa, for beautiful, lyrical solo dance pieces. 

The group dances were superbly choreographed set pieces from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti; both the boys and girls proudly wearing incredibly detailed, hand-made costumes. The Tongan boys gave a lively, vibrant performance of Mate Ma’a Tonga, clearly relishing their moment in the spotlight! The Samoan girls finished the evening with an equally lively Sasa – the slap dance. 

We also welcomed a guest appearance by Father and Sonz, a Presbyterian Church choir who sang in beautiful harmony. The night ended with a Taualuga; a time when members of the audience are invited to dance with their family members onstage; a chance for donations to be given, often slapped onto the bodies of the dancers. 

In closing, Mr Duncan McQueen, Principal Middle College gave thanks to the performers but also to the many staff, tutors and parents behind the scenes who had worked to make this such a special occasion. 

This year’s Cultural Evening was a wonderful, happy celebration of the mix of cultural backgrounds that make up our student body and was greatly enjoyed by all who attended. It was wonderful to see the pride with which the students represented their culture, their school and their families and the sense of belonging they brought to the stage. It was a total pleasure to watch! The audience loved it and were not shy about vocalising their support!


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