Ten-year-old Kaitaia boy Alexander Campbell-Lewis had his first haircut on Thursday, some years earlier than Samoan custom demands.
He did not want to wait until he was 16, like his grandfather, Cedric Campbell, or 18, like his father Rangi, however. He chose the moment, for a very special reason.
The Year 6 pupil at Pompallier Catholic School brought his transition from childhood to manhood forward to raise money for his teacher of last year, who is battling cancer.
She (who wishes to remain anonymous) and her family, and all Pompallier children gathered in St Joseph's Church on Thursday afternoon to see Alexander exchange his ponytail for a beautifully cut short back and sides.
Before hairdresser Pixie, from Pixie's Barbers, went to work, Pompallier principal Kathryn Carey announced that Alexander had raised $1674.50. By the time his haircut was completed that had grown by another $250.
Carey said Alexander's generosity was all the more special because the decision had been his alone.
"As a school we are so proud of our students, whanau and parish, who are so generously assisting our colleague on her journey," she added.
"Our senior students have initiated a coin trail and we have meals going home to the whanau. It is so neat to see our great community in action."
Carey said Alexander's family and whanau were very proud of him for his "incredibly humbling and generous act", but reminded Pixie that school rules prohibited his new hair style from featuring "any curly bits".
"We're here for you and your whanau, " she told the beneficiary of Alexander's generosity.
"And we're looking forward to seeing you back at school."
The teacher's husband struggled to control his emotions as he thanked Alexander, the school, the school whanau and the parish.
"We do not have the words to express our thanks for the prayers, the gifts and well-wishes we have received.
"It has not been easy to accept all the support we have received. It's been overwhelming," he said.
His wife was missing her pupils, he said.
He acknowledged the ''wonderful job'' Alexander's parents had made of raising their son.
And, as a 22-year first haircut veteran himself, he had a few words of comfort for Alexander.
"You won't have to worry now about hair spray, wax or shampoo," he said, "although you might get a bit of towel fluff stuck to your head from time to time."
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