At the break of dawn, Owairoa Primary staff and several students stood outside their new 18-classroom block building as a Maori blessing was undertaken.
The blessing on Friday May 27 started with a karanga [exchange of calls that forms part of the pōwhiri, a Maori welcoming ceremony], then a waerea (incantation) performed by Kaumatua Papa Toi Katipa where many staff and visitors got their first look inside the two-storey building, then prayer, and a mihi (speech), where thanks was given to the builders, those present and ancestors.
Lastly, a waiata (song) and the school song, Te Aroha, rounded out the proceedings.
In the staffroom, principal Alan McIntyre thanked visitors Taini Drummond, kaumatua Papa Toi Katipa, Nana Jean Cooper and Toitoi Katipa, paying tribute to their support of the school over the many years of their association with the Owairoa ‘family’.
Staff, students and visitors then shared a meal to complete the celebrations.
The official classroom project began in July 2019 and officially opened with much anticipation and excitement.
“We were really pleased with how the blessing went and are excited to finally start moving into the new classrooms early this week,” Diane McIntyre, international department director of international education, says.