Posted on 28 November, 2016
Tamaki College celebrates 25th anniversary of marae
In 2015, the Tamaki College Strategic Change Leadership Team (SCLT) was part of a Kia Eke Panuku wānanga. This challenged them to consider that the school’s marae was not the central focus of the school as it had been in the past. They wanted the marae to again be a valued taonga so that students and teachers could draw on the knowledge-base in their local region and to reconnect to its history and tikanga.
A focus for the celebration
The team determined that the 25th anniversary of the marae would be an ideal opportunity to re-establish its importance, role and position in their community.
The marae was established in 1991 with the vision of the then board of trustees chairman, Steve Kirkwood. His vision was for a marae that would welcome all the people of Glen Innes, and this led to the development of Te Poho o Tamaki Marae (‘the Heart of Tamaki’).
He was supported by John Grant, the principal of the College of the time, together with Wally Noble, a skilled carpenter, and Steve’s wife Nellie Kirkwood, the school’s te reo Māori teacher.
On 17 October 2016 the 25th anniversary of the marae was celebrated with great style. Kaumatua, kuia, past and present staff, and students and whānau took part in a day of celebrations that included a powhiri, presentations, hāngi, storytelling and waiata.
The students led a special tribute to the kaumatua Wally Noble for his 25 years of service to the kura.
The speech by deputy head boy, Jordan Makea (Tainui), explained how John Grant originally employed Matua Wally to help restore a dilapidated building, brought up from Kopuku in the Waikato, to be the school’s wharekai.
A memorable moment from the day was a performance of the school haka Tika Tonu that spontaneously erupted from staff and students during this presentation in honour of Matua Wally’s significant contribution and mana.
The head girl, Racheal Kaitu'u, also paid tribute to Soana Pamaka, the current principal, who has served the school for 25 years. Racheal made special mention of her leadership in ensuring the culture, language and identity of the Glen Innes communities remained strong and the centrality of the marae within this.
To honour her culture, a Tongan hymn Eiki Koe Ofa was sung by the students as her daughter, Sela Pamaka, presented her with a korowai.