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Gate Pa School welcomes new entrance way

Whare Thompson designed and carved the poupou in approximately 10 weeks. Photos. John Borren.

A crisp, but still morning greets members of the Gate Pā School community as they walk through the gates for a very special unveiling.

At 7am today a formal blessing of two Māori poupou and the opening of the new school entrance way took place with teachers, students, and whanau looking on.

Gate Pā school Principal Rochelle Jensen says the front entrance is significant to Gate Pā School as it “reflects our cultural narrative and tells our story.”

The idea for this project was born from a community consultation in late-2019 where two messages were heard loud and clear.

Rochelle says the messages illustrated that the “high quality of the Kura was not reflected from the outside” and the entrance should reflect “who we are, where we stand and the history of Aotearoa.”

“In shaping the future we must start with the past,” says Rochelle.

“The vision reflected in these ideas has physically taken shape over the last six months and will continue with the addition of an electronic sign, fencing around the perimeter and plaques explaining the narratives of the poupou.

“Whilst much mahi has occurred, from here a new type of mahi will begin. As first and foremost in reflecting the voices of whānau and bicultural foundations of Aotearoa, it is important that all our tamariki leave here knowing about the land in which they stand, the stories, the history, and the treaty obligations.

“Secondly, as a Kura who embraces and celebrates cultural diversity, all our students will be given the opportunity to develop their understanding of their own and others language, culture and identity,” says Rochelle.

Creator of the poupou Whare Thompson says the carving, which is made from swamp kauri is representative to the school, as well as to Pukehinahina (Gate Pā).

“The carving has two figures at the top of them, a male and a female figure. They represent two local ancestors, Rauhea Koikoi and Matatu.

Members of the community gathered for the blessing.

“The two figures are performing a pōwhiri. Matatu is doing a karanga and her husband is performing the wero, a challenge as part of the powhiri protocol.

“Beneath them are four heads. These four heads are ancestors that are related to the battle of Gate Pā and are also the four names is given to the school houses,” says Whare.

Whare says the carving from start to finish took about 10 weeks to complete.

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