Gateway gift of love

By Cathy Asplin


Kihikihi School and the Nga Kakano Kohanga Reo has a new waharoa at the eastern entry to their grounds.

School principal Andy Morgan says the waharoa (gateway) is symbolic of the school and the philosophy on which they base learning at the school.

"We are very appreciative of the efforts of Whare Puwerewere, the group of carvers who gifted their time to complete the waharoa.

"This group is made up of a core of carvers who were the first graduates of the carving degree instituted at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Te Awamutu.

"They come from different iwi and reside in different places in Aotearoa.

"On completion of their degree, they made a pact as a group to do a carving of significance for a community group each Easter.

"This was seen as a way of giving back to those who have allowed them the ability and the support to continue as carvers. This kaupapa (guiding idea) has seen them carve in a variety of places in the last ten years."

Organiser of the carvers for this year's Easter project was local resident, Shane Howell (Sharkey).

After a powhiri and kai on Thursday afternoon, the carvers began and continued carving through the night and all of Good Friday with the waharoa being erected at 1.30am on Saturday morning.

The waharoa was blessed and named, "He tangata ako, he whanau ako" at a dawn ceremony on Saturday March 30.

Mr Morgan says it is a unique design having a definite entry and exit component.

"This encapsulates the essence of the whakatauki (proverb), which indicates a person comes in to the kohanga and school to learn. The front of the waka (canoe) leads them in to this place of learning.

"When they depart they take their learning to support, lead and nurture their whanau and the wider whanau of the world. They are still travelling by waka and the rear of the waka depicts this journey of departure.

"There are many levels of meaning within the waharoa. "The process really opened our eyes to the complex messages and meanings in such carvings."

Mr Morgan says they are very thankful to Open Wananga who granted the school money to help with associated costs of materials and providing food and hospitality for the carvers.

"The only task left to complete is some landscaping around the base of the waharoa, which will be completed at a school working bee this term.

"For any visitors, it would be well worth stopping to look at this unique landmark."

Next year, Whare Puwerewere will continue their Easter carving at Ruatoki.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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