NZ’s biggest school celebrates Māori and Pacific culture and pride

posted: 8:00 am - 6th September 2018
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(Picture caption: Rangitoto College is holding hui this year to bring Māori and Pacific students together, to determine how it can promote te ao Māori and Pacific culture within, and beyond, the school.) 

Strengthening cultural pride within the Māori and Pacific community is the overarching goal of hui being staged at Rangitoto College in Auckland this year. 

Making up 8.7 percent of the largest school in New Zealand’s population of 3238 students, this group is highly valued and one of the school’s greatest resources according to Rangitoto Principal Patrick Gale. 

The Principal along with his leadership team created a new role at the end of 2017, which Rebecca Muipu has taken up with enthusiasm and drive. 

As the Māori and Pasifika Kairuruku/Coordinator, Rebecca says her main duties are to promote te ao Māori and Pacific culture within and beyond the school; and to organise positive engagement programmes with Māori and Pacific communities by adopting a whanaungatanga approach.

Earlier this year, the school staged its first hui of the year, which brought Māori and Pacific students together, to determine how it can promote te ao Māori and Pacific culture within, and beyond, the school. 

Two more hui – one per Term – have been staged since. 

“Our Term One hui was run by our Māori and Pasifika Year 13 students, but our hui for both Term Two and Three were led by our Māori and Pasifika student leaders from all year levels,” Rebecca says. 

“A small team of staff do a lot of the work behind the scenes under the leadership of the kairuruku.” 

The main purpose is to ensure Rangitoto College is building an inclusive and culturally responsive community for its Māori and Paific students and whānau, she adds. 

Typical issues being raised during these hui are predominantly related to strengthening cultural pride within the Māori and Pacific community. 

Some current issues students and teachers alike are looking at collecting information from the community about what’s best for Māori and Pacific students’ learning, and how Rangitoto College can offer support to them. 

Another issue is what success looks like to the school’s Māori and Pacific students, and how this can be celebrated at the end of year awards night and in other ways; and how it can recognise and acknowledge the uniqueness and variety of the many cultures students bring. 

Encouraging Māori and Pacific students to feel proud of their culture and heritage despite being a minority group at Rangitoto College is what the leadership team are hoping for by holding these hui, Rebecca says. 

“Only 8.7 percent of all the students at Rangitoto College have a Māori and/or Pacific background, and we would love for them to let their pride and excellence shine through all aspects of their cultural, academic, sporting and personal lives.” 

Since the first hui was staged in February, Rebecca and the leadership team have seen students coming out of their shell and contributing to our school activities with a lot of mana.  

“We’ve built a strong connection with the Murrays Bay Intermediate School by having some of their Māori and Pacific students get involved in our hui. 

“This is promising as these young students could potentially be our community future leaders at Rangitoto College,” she says. 

Meanwhile, Rangitoto College’s Kapa Haka group (pictured below), led by tutor Matua Gary, had their very first public performance in the Term Three hui, witnessed by many students, staff and whānau. 

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“Some of the participants, including international students, had never heard or seen a Māori performance before and we are incredibly proud of how far they have come,” Rebecca says. 

Under the leadership of Rangitoto College’s Principal Patrick Gale, all staff are encouraged to support all aspects of integrating Māori and Pacfic culture at the school. 

“We recognise the approaches that support our Māori and Pacific learners also benefit our other students, so it is well worth investing our time and resources into this important aspect of our school,” she adds.