Why does St Anthony's School have a Māori cloak? And why is it special to us as something that represents who we are?
St Anthony's journey began early in 2020 when our principal Marg Hyslop asked staff the question - "Why do we have this particular korowai cloak?" This korowai was a commercially produced one.
The school decided that the student, teacher or other people who had the responsibility for leading the school at that time showed that responsibility by wearing the korowai on that occasion.
Hiria Tua put forward the thought that maybe we should make our own korowai that better reflected our school and values. From very early on, Traci Wheeler also supported us on this journey.
Traci challenged us to find out about our local stories and what we would take from these to be reflected in our kākahu. She also pointed out that we really were talking about creating a kākahu cloak, which was different from a korowai cloak. At this same time, we approached Reap, which agreed to support such a project.
It was the year of bus trips in 2020, out to discover our local stories, guided by Tā Rihari Daymond. We based our travels around our four rivers that our students are grouped into back at school. We started off at Rock Rd where the Makākahi flows.
Tā Daymond spoke to us about the legend attached to the Haast Eagle and how this led to how Pahiatua got its name. Our second trip saw us at Traci and Todd Wheeler's farm next to the Mangahao River and our final river journey was to the start of the Manawatū Gorge, where the mighty east coast Manawatū River flows through the ranges to come out on the west coast.
For our Charism journey, our younger students visited the sites of the Brigidine nuns' homes and the three St Anthony's School sites in Edward and Tyndall Sts.
We started 2021 with a solid understanding of our local stories. The next step was to transfer these ideas into a kākahu. Traditionally cloaks were made from harakeke, and we spent time ensuring that we knew how to care for our flax and the protocol around harvesting and using it. To transfer our stories into visual representations we made a trip to our marae to learn about tukutuku panels.
Hiria Tua explained each pattern and the meaning behind it. Back at school we experimented with designing our own tukutuku patterns to represent what was important to us.
Traci Wheeler met with the staff to discuss what should be on the cloak and together developed the following list: the cross, our Brigidine values, our four rivers, and the Tararua Ranges. She went away with our ideas and quickly transformed these into an amazing pattern for our school kākahu.
As the weaver, Mrs Traci Wheeler sat in St Brigid's Church to start the process of casting on the first row of our kākahu cloak. Throughout the year she worked steadily weaving and this continued during the lockdown.
The kākahu visited the school a few times afterwards for the students and staff to see how it was growing, and for them to remember the stories and meanings represented on it.
On Friday, December 10, the kākahu was unveiled, named for the first time, and blessed in St Brigid's Church by Father Vince Onesi. Its name is Te Kahu Manukura, or The Cloak of Leadership. The person who wears this cloak in the future carries the school and all we represent on their shoulders during that experience.
The cross represents our LIFE through Jesus Christ. The māwhitiwhiti (stars) represents the four Brigidine sisters who founded St Anthony's School in 1906, and our four Gospel LIFE values of Love, Integrity, Fortitude and Excellence. The poutama (stairs) speak of being on our journey of gaining and sharing knowledge. The feathers from the pukeko swamp bird represent Pahiatua, which was founded on a swamp.
These feathers are always together, just like our St Anthony's School whanau. The kaokao (stance of a warrior) represents the protection and strength of our Tararua and Puketoi ranges which bound our Tararua district.
Within the kaokao pattern are four of our awa (Tiraumea, Makākahi, Mangahao, Manawatū) representing the compass points of our four whanau groups. The tāniko band colours along the bottom are representative of our school colours, blue and white, with a yellow cross.