Kia Ora!

Since our arrival in New Zealand on June 10th, our group has had the privilege to meet and interact with local people who have been so kind to welcome us into their communities and teach us about their culture and history.

On Thursday, we visited a local school where we continued our volunteer work in a Northland community. We were greeted by Matua Jamie one of the teachers who lives in a house by the school with his wife and six kids. His children are the 5th generation of his family to be connected to the school and the area. In the classroom, the day started with a series of readings, Waiata (song), and a Mihi (short personal introduction) by the student leader. All of the kids are taught to be musical, creative, practical, confident, and leaders. It's a really interesting contrast to schools in the States, where children are talked at and have their music and art taken away from them.

We exchanged introductions with the students by introducing ourselves, where we were from, a sign (a physical action that describes us), why we chose that sign, and what makes our place special. After splitting some firewood for an elderly woman in the community, we joined the kids for their free time and played Rippa Rugby with them, which is kind of similar to American Flag Football. The kids kicked our butts. They were so fast, worked well as a team, could run and pivot quickly, and easily beat us. It was great to see kids so enthusiastic about being active and outdoors, something that's also very different in the States as more and more kids are opting to stay inside and play video games or use their electronic devices. By the end of it, we were completely exhausted, but felt so blessed to have such a genuine experience getting to know a part of the local culture. 

Thank you, Whangaruru School, for hosting us and for making my 20th birthday so memorable! We loved meeting all of you!

"There are no boundaries to conservation or community" - Chris, Kaitiaki of Mimiwhangata & protector of the environment (comparable to a ranger in the states)


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Author Suma Lashof Posted