Cul­tural ex­change

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ieuan Jones con­ducts the Lions Male Voice Choir at Awa­puni School.

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