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Matariki connects Whangārei marae with Blomfield Special School

Merewai Durutalo

Matariki brings Whangārei marae and Blomfield Special School together

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The sounds of Te Tai Tokerau youth echoed through the heart of Whangarei at Terenga Paraoa marae this week in celebration of Matariki.

Blomfield Special School staff and students were formally welcomed on to Terenga Paraoa Marae on Wednesday by kaumātua to officially begin a new prosperous journey together.

Teacher David Robinson said: “We hope to keep building this relationship so that this space can become a space for our tamariki and whanau”.

About 120 Blomfield Special School students, along with whanau, attended the Matariki Puanga event, which included a display of students’ Matariki art.

“We are celebrating the first Matariki Puanga event at the marae in Blomfield’s history, and it’s very exciting,” Robinson said.

The celebration holds deep importance for Blomfield Special School and Resource Centre, as 60 per cent of staff and students identify as Māori.

The Matariki celebration and art display is one of many firsts, not just for the school and resource centre but also for the marae.

Daniel Matene, a Kamo High School student who attends satellite classes at Blomfield School, with his Matariki art creation. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

The marae is connected to Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Whatua, and Ngāpuhi iwi within the Te Tai Tokerau region.

Blomfield cultural adviser Colin Heteraka spoke on behalf of staff and students by giving a brief history of Terenga Paraoa.

Kapa haka tutor Shane Maunsell helped lead the students with waiata and kapa haka.

“This is what brings meaning to my work week,” he says.

Specialist teacher Caleb Piggott said: “There’s a beautiful relationship between our kura and the Kaka Porowini marae, being able to come to a place like this and feel a deeper belonging and connectedness with the community.

“It’s a beautiful thing that the lead teachers have set up, and it’s like a building swell. It’s growing, and there’s more exposure for our special abilities. It gives us another opportunity to extend ourselves.”

Kamo High School student Daniel Matene attends classes at Blomfield School and says the marae felt like home.

“I’m really impressed with all the artwork in this space, which is absolutely impressive.”

Daniel also had a Matariki-inspired piece on display.

“This is my work; we kind of did a bit of design on the side; as you can see, there are three stars on each side. This one right here is Tuapuārangi.”

Hero Image: This Taniwha art piece was on display at Terenga Paraoa Marae during the Matariki celebration with Blomfield Special School. Photo / Merewai Durutalo

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