Pupils enjoy big day out on marae

By Lin Ferguson

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Hunterville principal Stephen Lewis and Paddy Potaka address the children. 121113WCLFHUNTERVILLE06
Hunterville principal Stephen Lewis and Paddy Potaka address the children. 121113WCLFHUNTERVILLE06

Hunterville school is the epitome of a small-town country school with huge community support.

And this week the children enjoyed a day at Rata Marae about seven kilometres south, where the marae committee, parents and the school made it a red letter day for the 188 pupils.

Clear skies and sunshine heralded the arrival of the children, parents and teachers on to the marae for the powhiri.

Kaumatua Paddy Potaka, a former teacher at the school, told the pupils they were in for a special day with 16 activities throughout the grounds ready for everyone to enjoy.

There was a loud buzz of excitement and laughing as the children sorted into 16 groups and filed off to their activity, which included stick games, tukutuku art, stone painting, flaxwork, waiata, story-telling, kowhaiwhai art, koru pattern art and - a big hit - learning to make fried bread in the marae kitchen.

Tutor Erina Metekingi measured out the flour, baking powder and warm water into two large bowls with each child having a stir of the stiff dough.

Then it was turned out on a floured bench and everyone helped knead it and slice it into scone-size pieces. Mrs Metekingi took over the cooking and dropped the "breads" into a hot vat of oil.

There was great excitement as the kids lined up for the taste test - a bread slathered with butter, golden syrup or jam by two of the big boys.

The golden, bubbly, crisp-fried bread went down a treat.

"Sooo beautiful," said one small girl.

"Yeah - it's the best, eh?" a senior boy said.

Sitting in circles under awnings, the flax-weaving kids made flax fish, while the stone painting groups concentrated on their river stones, carefully putting on Maori designs.

At the waiata group, each child was given a bright-coloured ukelele to accompany themselves as they sang one of their favourites, Rangitikei Awa.

The hangi for lunch - chicken, beef and pork with all the veg followed by steam pudding with custard and cream - was provided by the whole community.

Principal Stephen Lewis said it was a marvellous day out which had run like clockwork because there was so much help.

"We're very fortunate, we really are - our children have a great day out and so do we."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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