A coffee break turned into a fullblown cultural exchange for one Palmerston North school and a choir of touring Lions supporters.
Awapuni School principal and rugby fan Stephen Soutar was in the city for a coffee last Thursday and ended up talking to Lions supporters, among them, members of the Lions Male Voice Choir.
The choir, which accompanies Lions tours, only forms every four years, and was in Palmerston North for a Winter Festival Friday matinee concert at the city’s Convention and Function Centre.
‘‘Lions supporters are quite easy to spot, and in the third group I talked to there were a couple of choir members.
‘‘I extended an invitation to them, and they turned up,’’ Soutar said.
‘‘One of our classes is studying the Lions, and I thought it would give the kids a chance to talk to real Lions supporters.’’
Mark Burrows, director of the 33 member choir said he was really taken with the offer.
‘‘I thought what a cute idea. I put it to the choir members and practically all of them said ‘yes’, so we hired a bus.’’
Fresh from performing at last week’s primary and intermediate school showcase Te Pae Tamariki, the 33 members of the school’s kapa haka group performed a bracket of songs for the visitors that included poi and haka.
Choir member Del Morgan then greeted the schoolchildren and staff in Welsh, before conductor Ieuen Jones launched the choir into Welsh hymn Calon Lan - The Pure Heart, also performing Hine e Hine and Pokarekare.
Afterwards, the children got to ask questions of choir members, including which were their favourite New Zealand rugby teams.
‘‘The ones we beat,’’ was the response.
As for the choir’s favourite part of the tour, it was ‘‘this bit, right here’’.
‘‘I was blown away - it was such a privilege to have them here, and it was such a good opportunity for the kids,’’ Soutar said.
‘‘One of the women travelling with the choir said it had been the highlight so far.’’
The group, whose members range in age from 21 up to their 80s, then travelled from Palmerston North to Napier, before heading on to perform concerts in Rotorua and Auckland.
Ieuan Jones conducts the Lions Male Voice Choir at Awapuni School.