Maia Vaka had her final day at Onerahi Primary School last week but she'll be hard to forget - her face is now emblazoned on a large mural.

The Whangarei school hosted the Te Whanga Festival last Friday which celebrated culture through a range of activities like kapa haka and Maori games.

As part of the festival people were also able to watch local artist Earnest Bradley paint a mural from start to finish.

"One of the teachers, Henry Beattie, was working with room 13 on art and instead of just researching on Monet or Van Gough, they looked at local artists and did a bit of an inquiry," said teacher Kim Te'o.

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"He got Earnest to come in and visit and share some of his art and they thought of this idea together where Earnest would paint us a mural during the festival so it was something going on live and kids were able to watch it."

Maia Vaka was chosen to be the face of the mural as teachers were looking for a student who had been at the school since year one, and was in the school kapa haka group.

Mr Te'o said having Maia on the mural was fitting as it was her last day at school that Friday as her family were moving to Kaikohe.

"She was really happy. She was amazed by the whole thing."

Onerahi Primary School students Noema Oppert, Demetrius Oppert and Tu Manaka Pitman. Photo/John Stone
Onerahi Primary School students Noema Oppert, Demetrius Oppert and Tu Manaka Pitman. Photo/John Stone

Parua Bay School, Raurimu Avenue School, and Whangarei Heads School also attended the festival which is in its third year and is hosted by different schools each year.

Mr Te'o said a big focus of the day was children sharing learning around culture and language and classrooms taking ownership to host the visitors.

Activities included Maori games, kowhaiwhai art, and a station with the blender bike from Sport Northland - a bike which has a blender attached which is activated by pedalling.

"A big part of our school is children being grounded in who they are as people, their cultural identity. This festival gave us an awesome opportunity to share it with others," he said.