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No. 24 (October 1958)
– 37 –

THE OPENING CEREMONY

At the opening day the official party assembled at the gates of the school and then made its way through a guard of honour of pupils dressed in Maori costume as they chanted a traditional Maori welcome and waved branches of greenery.

Mr Joe Hoko gave the official Maori Welcome and this was responded to by Mrs Wright, the Senior Lady Welfare Officer. Little Mary Kereopa presented a bouquet to Mrs Seath, wife of Mr D. C. Seath, M.P.

Chairman was a prominent Maori leader and member of the Tuwharetoa Advisory Committee. Mr J. A. Asher, whose family donated the land for the school, and the official party included Mr and Mrs Seath; Hepi te Heubeu, paramount chief Tuwharetoa Tribe; Ben Christy, Chairman of the School (an ex-Maori Welfare Officer who has now taken up farming on the block under the Rehabilitation scheme); Kahu Te Kura, one of the oldest chiefs; Canon Wi Huata; P. A. Grace; G. L. Stafford, Inspector of Maori Schools, and many others.

Mr Asher delivered an opening address. He then called on Mr Ben Christy, Chairman of the School Committee, who extended a welcome to the visitors to the ceremony and appreciation to the Paurini family for its gift of the land for the building, and also to the Education Department for erecting the building.

The headmaster of the new school, Mr B. James, was the next speaker, who said he was impressed at the interest shown in the school by the local residents and parents.

An action song by the pupils delighted the audience and then one of the oldest surviving chiefs, Kahu te Kura, spoke. Kahu te Kura was an original pupil at the first Tokaanu Maori school and said he thought that, today, education for Maori children took precedence over everything else. Tribal lands and even Maori culture should take second place to modern education which allowed Maori children to be measured by the same yardstick as their European friends. With education, Maori children would be well protected in the future.

He then walked to the flagpole and broke out the New Zealand flag while the children sang the National and New Zealand anthems.

Mr D. C. Seath. M.P. officially declared the building open.