Students embrace Anzac history
Learning about Maori protocol and paying respect to Papakura’s fallen soldiers have gone hand-inhand for students at Mansell Senior School.
Thirty white crosses will be placed in the school’s Field of Remembrance to pay tribute to local fallen soldiers, service men and women and the unknown soldiers who fought for New Zealand in World War I.
A powhiri was held to officially welcome the crosses on to the school grounds, with a twist being the entire ceremony was organised and run by students.
Principal Rebecca KauKau says getting the students to learn how to present a powhiri makes sense in a school that’s 75 per cent Maori.
‘‘It’s our belief that if our kids know their ancestry they can go into the world feeling confident.
‘‘It’s when our kids don’t have a sense of belonging that problems happen,’’ she says.
All students, regardless of background, learnt the proper process and protocols for the powhiri, including how to introduce themselves, how to karanga and why it’s important to hongi.
For those who aren’t Maori, it’s about building understanding, KauKau says.
The students are also learning about traditions surrounding Anzac Day such as the significance of poppies and the relevance of the bugle.
Some also entered the recent Fallen Soldiers project.
That involved hundreds of children in the area researching and presenting the histories of soldiers from Papakura who died in World War I.
KauKau says she hopes students will take away two things from the combination of learning more about Maori culture soldiers.
‘‘One is respect; to respect others. The other thing that’s key is empathy; to actually have a heart for someone,’’ she says.
Year 8 student Leititia Vaka was one of the students who entered the Fallen Soldiers project. She researched two brothers, one of
Papakura’s whom lied about his age in order to get accepted into the army. Both brothers died during the war.
Leititia says it was hard work finding information on the family of the young men but she enjoyed the search. It made her realise that ‘‘war is not a good thing to do’’.
The white crosses will be erected on Friday.