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No. 57 (December 1966)
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Members of Apanui School's decorative art group … …and the carving group

Whakatane Primary Schools' Combined
Maori Music Festival

In December 1965, ten primary schools in the Whakatane district held a combined music festival with two evening performances. These performances comprised songs by the combined choirs, ranging from Luigi Denza's Funiculi Funicula to Verdi's Chorus of the Hebrew Captives, English and American folk dances, instrumental items and Maori songs and posture dances. Needless to say, the festival, the first of its kind to be held in the district, was a great success.

This, however, prompted some members of the organising committee to consider an ‘All Maori Music Festival’. A meeting of interested school teachers was convened and the decision to hold the Maori Music Festival was made. It was held in August of this year. The schools which took part in the festival

 

Tokoroa Maori Culture Festival

On 9 and 10 August in the Tokoroa New Memorial Hall, a Maori Culture Festival was on display for both Primary School children and the general public.

This was all started when extension work on Maori culture and Arts was sought for a very new and keen group of children who had learned Taniko Weaving and Piu Piu making at the Tokoroa Intermediate School. They outfitted themselves in traditional Maori

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E. P. Christensen photographs
Jane Barrett of Tokoroa Intermediate school makes a piupiu

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Malvina Marsh, of Tokoroa Intermediate School demonstrates taniko weaving

 
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Apanui girls practise a stick game … …and an action song

were Te Teko, Paroa, Poroporo, Ruatoki, Tawera Maori Schools and Apanui and Taneatua schools. Items by each school comprised action songs, poi dances, stick games, group songs and the inevitable war dance—the haka. Dress was optional, though the majority of schools performed in traditional Maori costume. Each school performed for a maximum of twenty minutes. The opening item of the evening and the finale were sung en masse. With the finals came the approval by acclamation of the evening's performances.

A packed Whakatane War Memorial Hall ten minutes before the starting time assured the organisers that the evening would be financially successful at least. As if in response to the large attendance of parents the children, in turn, rose to the occasion and presented a two-hour programme with the naturalness, enthusiasm and enjoyment not often seen in the more competitive performances of this nature. Although the festival was strictly non-competitive, the winner was undoubtedly—Maori Music.

Many a parent and kaumatua must have left the festival fully satisfied that this aspect of

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costume for their very promising action song group, and following this, were striving for new knowledge of their culture.

As there was no museum and no chance for any first-hand experience of Maori Culture for Primary School Social Studies in the town of Tokoroa, it was proposed that a Maori Culture Festival be organised so that these needs could be provided, both for the Primary Schools and for the Intermediate School Maori Club; and in what better way could they hope to extend their knowledge than by taking part themselves in the exhibits of these arts.

The displays included taniko weaving and piu piu making done by the Tokoroa Intermediate Maori Club, carving and tuku tuku performed by Bethlehem Maori School of Tauranga, and plaiting and hangis displayed by Waioeka Maori School. Other exhibits were weapons and weapon fighting, games and pastimes, and the Auckland Museum sent down a Maori Decorative Arts Display which gave

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One of the Bethlehem Maori School carvers. Makohiti Brown

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Waioeka School children demonstrate flax weaving

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our New Zealand culture is being maintained to a very high degree. Many also must have received encouragement from the fact that in one school group nearly 50 per cent of the performers were Pakeha children. As Mr Richards, headmaster of the Apanui School, guest speaker of the evening, said in his opening address:

‘Our heritage of Polynesian lore is a rich one and one that we can not afford to neglect if we are to develop a truly New Zealand culture. Personally I feel that, for it to survive, it must be integrated into the over-all plan of our schools' curriculum and in my own school we endeavour to do this, both Maori and Pakeha children taking part in these truly New Zealand activities. However, for this to achieve the desired success requires interested and able teachers and a sympathetic public. I like to think we are progressing towards this.’

At the Apanui School which has a roll of 755 children, 35 per cent of whom are Maori, Maori cultural work is an integral part of the school's club activities. The club has equal numbers of Maori and Pakeha children, and all participate fully in the activities, which include Maori music, wood carving, flax weaving and decorative art.

 

TOKOROA FESTIVAL contd from p. 39

the finishing touch. All the participating schools sent very capable pupils to display these arts and the whole Festival was performed by these children. They handled it and accomplished it well.

This meant that all who participated saw meaning in what they were learning, and in being given an ultimate goal, they worked with more interest and vigour. The children gained much valuable knowledge of their own culture, and even more important, it gave them a deep sense of pride in what they were doing and accomplishing. This was their culture and part of their heritage—no wonder they gained so much.

Over 1,400 children saw these displays over the two days and gained unlimited knowledge and valuable material for follow-up classroom activities.

On 10 August, the Festival ended with a Grand Maori Concert lasting three very enjoyable hours. The four parties to perform were: Matarawa Primary School, Waioeka Maori School, Bethlehem Maori School, Tokoroa Intermediate School.

Overall, this child-centred Maori Culture Festival was an enormous success. It proved the worth and capabilities of children who are interested and can see meaning in what they are doing. All visitors gained much valuable information, and the exchange of knowledge, the friendships that were made, and even the participation of a Pakeha, a Pacific Islander, and a Canadian girl did much to promote the Maoritanga we need so much in our children of today.