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Moving ceremony for special gift


otamatea high school taonga-901Monday July 20 signified a special occasion for Otamatea High School. Not only was it the commencement of term three but the school held a blessing ceremony to receive a special taonga which had been gifted to the school.

The taonga is a waharoa, or gateway, designed and carved by three students of Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Mangere Campus. One of the carvers, Jay Simmonds, works as the groundsperson at the school four days a week and studies whakairo (Maori carving) every Tuesday with the other two carvers William Theodore and Bryce Woollen.

The intricate carvings which make up the piece represent many facets of a Maori world view. The Maori concept of time (Te Kore, Te Po, Te Ao Marama) is represented through the stories told in the carvings.

The traditional colours of red, white and black are used in the waharoa as well as the blue of Otamatea High School.

The moving ceremony attended by staff, students and community members was led by Matua Rau Morgan. Students responded with the new school haka also based on the Maori concept of time as well as acknowledging the significance of the Kaipara region. The carvers were initially unaware that the haka and carvings were aligned but it was clearly meant to be. In an assembly following the blessing the carvers explained the meaning of the waharoa as well as their own personal journeys.

The symbolism of entering through a waharoa is about passing from one state to another, similar to what happens when people are welcomed onto a marae. For Otamatea High School this symbol is also about being a welcoming place, a place for the whole community. The waharoa will be used in the future during powhiri and on other special occasions.

This year some Otamatea High School students have begun studying whakairo and the school is hoping to expand this provision over the next few years.

GATEWAY: The school haka ushers in the principles of the gifted taonga, watched over by the mountain Pukeareinga.

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