Whanganui City College students put local history to the fore with their Stage Challenge production Te Pakanga (the battle) last Friday in Palmerston North.

Visitors to the school open night tomorrow will get a chance to see the performance which takes an audience from modern-day conflicts to the 1864 battle of Moutua Island.

"The students have been studying this significant event in Whanganui history as part of the curriculum and it is very relevant for them," said deputy principal Valerie Rooderkerk.

"There has been a lot of consultation with iwi and we have descendants of some of the key figures involved in the conflict among our board members and staff."

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Mrs Rooerkerk said Te Pakanga is a first Stage Challenge entry for the school as they are normally focused on the kapa haka national competitions at this time of year.

The production begins with a present-day conflict in the school grounds and the protagonists are transported back to the time of the battle.

"It is also about the inner battles that everyone faces," said Mrs Rooderkerk.

The annual Stage Challenge event is part of a nationwide tour involving 16,000 participants from 200 schools and Whanganui City College and Whanganui High School both represented the region this year.

Stage Challenge aims to motivate young people to engage in positive and healthy lifestyles while providing an opportunity to be part of a professional performing arts event.

Tomorrow night's performance of Te Pakanga is free to the public in the school hall from 6pm.