Friday, February 28, 2014

Kapa Haka Festival 'probably the biggest yet'


Te Wharekura o Arowhenua intermediate kapa haka group
                               NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
PERFORMANCE: Members of the Te Wharekura o Arowhenua intermediate kapa haka group take to the stage with passion at Nga Putangitangi.

"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.

Organisers of the 2013 Nga Putangitangi say they are thrilled the annual event is thriving and continuing to grow 21 years after it was established.
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."
The pupils put so much effort into their performances that some were hardly able to speak when they had finished, she said. 

Extra Effort Rewarded

Paula O'Neill and Jasmine Rolton


In 2012 I had one of the most MAGIC moments in my teaching career.  It was proving to be an average day with planning and teaching as normal until a couple of ladies in orange t-shirts arrived with a rather large orange box, followed by my Principal, teaching colleague from neighbouring class, Southland Times reporter and photographer in tow.  As the flowers were given, accolades flowed, photos were taken and resources were revealed, it was apparent I was being awarded for all that I gave to my job.  It was a very humbling experience and hard to comprehend.  It seemed what I did each day to empower my students was being highlighted as extraordinary. 

New River Primary School teachers Jasmine Rolton (right) and Paula O’Neill unpack the box of prizes delivered Mrs Rolton, who won the Day Made Better award — after being nominated by Ms O’Neill.
A class of children at New River Primary School have a big box of goodies to unpack after their teacher was today recognised for going beyond the call of duty.
The box of prizes, including a digital camera and lots of other classroom extras like stamps and stickers, was delivered to Room 12 as a reward for their teacher, Jasmine Rolton, who had won the Day Made Better award for teachers who do more than the usual for their pupils.
Mrs Rolton was nominated for the prize, laid on by Office Max and run worldwide, by her colleague Paula O'Neill who teaches in next-door Room 11.
''She's very organised and passionate, she always has really cool things for the kids,'' Ms O'Neill said.
''We have her on about needing a mattress at work she does so much.''
Mrs Rolton teaches 20 Year 5 and 6 pupils.
She had paid for beanbags and swiss balls for the class, among many other things, and ran after-school kapa haka, technology clubs and touch teams. Her room is full of things to do and encourage children, many of which were paid for out of her own pocket.
''I'm passionate about learning,'' she said. ''I love to explain and give a platform for children to achieve. It's up to them if they want to stand on that platform ... I feel like I do an ordinary job, even if people call me crazy.''
One of Mrs Rolton's pupils, Anakie Murray-Campbell, said she was the best teacher in the world.
''She makes the classroom feel like home,'' Anakie said.
A gaggle of other pupils, including Nesion Dixon, Kylos Brett, Aidan Schultz, Kathryn Smith, Blade Walker and Lane O'Connell queued up to talk about Mrs Rolton.
Comments included ''she takes responsibility for us and always gives us presents'', ''she says reach for the stars'' and ''she's nice to us, and lets us do lots of fun stuff.''