"To find one self and experience wholeness is to know
your culture and be involved"
As a Ngai Tahu Maori passionate about my culture and language, every chance I had within my teaching career I found means and ways to uphold Te reo Maori within the schools I worked at. Some of my most memorable moments were watching tamariki take the stage after months and months of preparation to show case their skills and abilities to entertain. Speech competitions were upheld annually giving all students the opportunity to learn about their whakapapa, use a mihimihi before speaking. To be a New Zealander is to have the opportunity to participate and perform in the areas of Tikanga me Te reo Maori.
Over the years I was fortunat to be involved in a committee that provided a platform for an annual speech and kappa haka competition. The last year with the committee, I held the role as Chairperson and I worked with a number of people who I admire for their commitment and dedication to see our tamariki in the Southland area have the opportunity to be involved in these competitions each year. Many of our teachers and tutors have grown over the years with this chance to create and inspire the tamarikit they tutored.
Chairwoman Jasmine Rolton said 13 schools and 20 groups took part at the SIT Velodrome yesterday, with an overflow of spectators for the 1099-capacity seating.
She believed more than 3000 people turned out to watch the performances throughout the day.
The day was all about the tamariki, many of whom had practised all year for the performance, she said.
Pupils from many cultures had joined groups at a young age and were passionate about language and performing arts.
This was their opportunity to shine and there were not too many opportunities for the Maori community to give performances, which inspired so much pride.
Year 11, 12 and 13 pupils from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua handled the MC duties.
"These older pupils did a tremendous job and are role models for the younger children. It gives them something to aspire to and shows them what opportunities they might have."
Nga Putangitangi unveiled its new paradise duck logo T-shirts at the event.
"Once the pupils perform, they stretch their wings out above and beyond their ability to shine, which was the concept behind the logo," Ms Rolton said.
Her move to Australia was imminent but she remained dedicated to Nga Putangitangi, staying in Invercargill so she could complete her duties.
Nga Putangitangi treasurer Ann Reedy has been on the committee for 12 years and is the longest-serving member.
She had seen the festival grow year after year but "this is probably the biggest yet".
The festival had moved from the Civic Theatre to accommodate the growth.
The event was important because it fostered the Maori culture, keeping it alive.
The event retained pupils' skills in the arts and boosted their confidence, she said.
"It gives them and us an enormous sense of pride."