Culture plays a significant role in the day-to-day life of Opunake School, with over 40% of our school identifying as Maori, incorporating Maori culture into the day-to-day life of the school is seen as super important, not just for the students, but for staff also, this is best represented by staff beginning their meetings with karakia and waiata, and also their ongoing commitment to Te Kahui Whetu, a kapahaka “competition” for staff of secondary schools in Taranaki.
Opunake High School also has a large number of students identifying as Pasifika and Asian (particularly Filipino), so its not just about providing Maori students an opportunity to learn as Maori students, but giving all students an opportunity to embrace their culture in their learning.
Te Roopu Kapahaka o Te Haumoana
Te Haumoana is the name bestowed upon our Kapahaka group. Meeting every Friday, this committed group of Maori rangatahi are guided by Matua Louie & Whaea Whetu in learning waiata and kapahaka in order to take opportunities to perform at many different events around Taranaki and across the North Island.
Coming up in late-June, members of this group will perform at Nga Manu Korero and Pae Rangatahi Aotea regional schools Kapahaka competitions to be held at Sandford Events Centre, this leads onto the Puanga Festival held annually in Waitara later in the year.
If you walk into the hall at Opunake High School, one of the first things you’ll see is the many flags hanging from the rafters. These flags represent over 35 nationalities that our student body identify as being part of their ethnicity. This was diversity has never been on better display than at our first Diversity Day in 2018.
This now-annual event was the culmination of a three-year vision. The day beginning with a flag ceremony on the tennis courts, with countries from Australia to Brazil, Canada to the Philippines, and most of the Pacific present. New Zealand was well represented of course, as well as a significant number of students being represented by the Tino Rangatiratanga flag.
Following the Flag Parade where students entered the hall and presented their flag to a special Iwi, we were treated to a cultural concert featuring music, staff and student Kapahaka and special guests – Selah Saints. A shared lunch where students brought a dish representing their culture was followed by an afternoon of sport, featuring cultural games – Ti uru and Ki o rahi.
When everything was all done for the day, it was impossible not to feel that something special occurred with planning now underway for Diversity Day in 2019.