Rotorua Boys' High School has introduced an official school lavalava to its uniform in recognition of its Pacific Island students.
Featuring the three feathers of Raukura, the black sulu can be worn instead of the formal trousers or shorts. It is not exclusively for Pasifika boys with Japanese and Maori among the wearers.
Year 12 student Fonua Fukofuka of Tonga said the lavalava was something he felt comfortable in.
"I am proud to be a Pacific Islander and wearing this makes me feel more included in the school because I can wear a part of my culture every day," Fonua said.
Pasifika mentor and English teacher, John Pesefea, said identity was at the forefront of who they were as a school.
"This is embracing all Pacific students and their heritage and the sulu identifies that. It brings the Raukura brotherhood together."
Rotorua Boys' High has one of the largest percentage of Maori enrolled for a state school in the country (nearly 70 per cent), but there is a growing number of students who identify as Pasifika with 50 currently enrolled. They include Cook Islands Maori, Tongan, Fijian, Samoan and Tokelauan.
The school will host the Super 8 Cultural Festival later this month, with eight boys' high schools throughout the central North Island competing. For the first time, a Pasifika section has been added to the event with more than 80 boys taking part.
- Rotorua Daily Post