The Whanganui Central Baptist kindergarten now has its own korowai (cloaks), which were blessed at a special powhiri for the kindergarten community last week.
Parent Tama Dalbeth delivered the whaikorero (formal speech) for the community as he welcomed kaumatua John Maihi and guests for the ceremony. The preschoolers sat with parents and teachers who listened and sang waiata during the blessing.
Kindergarten manager Royce Dewe said the two korowai would be worn on special occasions by children who were leaving the city as well as those children going on to school. The kaiako (teacher's) korowai was worn by senior teacher Lyn Shaw, who recently retired.
Mrs Dewe said the korowai were made under Te Kopae Ririki, a Ministry of Education initiative to identify language, culture and community engagement through Wanganui iwi education authority Te Puna Matauranga. "Te Kopae Ririki gives us the knowledge and understanding of the unique place of Maori as tangata whenua, and provides links with local iwi, hapu and organisations in Wanganui," Mrs Dewe said.
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Kahurangi Kawau, who is project manager for Te Kopae Ririki and contracted to Te Puna Matauranga, and Tania Anderson, from the Ministry of Education, worked in partnership with the kindergarten community and guided the making of the korowai and protocols around the powhiri, and the importance in Te Ao Maori (Maori world).
Mrs Dewe said parents did the cross stitch on the korowai, and the iwi gifted the materials.
Central Baptist kindergarten is one of five Wanganui early childhood centres which have worked in partnership for a year with Te Puna Matauranga and the Ministry of Education around Te Kopae Ririki. This has now been extended by the ministry for another two years.