Masses of students, teachers and family members filled Haeata Community Campus for its market day ahead of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, where stalls sold food, jewellery and all manner of goods and services.
For Jadah, going to school at Haeata Community Campus was a chance to learn about her Māori heritage.
“I didn’t really know where I came from growing up, until I joined Haeata. I had a huge passion for performing and kapahaka, and I kind of found who I was through that,” she says.to learn about her Māori heritage.
The 15-year-old’s passion for our culture didn’t stop there, however, and through the school she has been exploring other facets of toi Māori – namely making jewellery.
It all started when she wanted some earrings, so she made them. With the help of one of her teachers, that has now turned into a business – Māhina Design.
Jadah designs her jewellery before using a laser cutter to produce the right shape. Each piece then requires some hand crafting to become the finished product.
Her teacher purchases the materials she uses and some of the money she makes then goes towards covering those costs.
After that it’s on to the markets – in this case at her school – where she hosted one of dozens of stalls selling things from cookies, kebabs and candy floss to pounamu, trinkets, arts and crafts and providing moko face-painting.
Among the groups was a Samoan language class, who were fundraising for a trip to the country many of their families originally came from.
Taumaloto Tiatia, Pasifika Community Engagement Advisor at Haeata, said some of the students felt a disconnectedness from their parents’ or grandparents’ home countries. Staff also wanted to give them a sense of what their families had given up to raise them in New Zealand.
“We explored options for – the Māori term is tūrangawaewae – a sense of belonging, and it just went from there. Because we’ve got a young group we’re able to connect them with their heritage from that young age.”
Many of the students at Haeata live in Housing New Zealand homes, including some of those heading on the Samoa trip.
The group is fundraising to cover costs, but an important part of that was to provide a service rather than taking donations, Taumaloto said.
“One thing about our group and our kids is that we don’t want a hand-out. If we can link up with people who might have jobs around the home, church or their business – if they contact us we’ll come out and we’ll happily take a koha for helping them.”