Tupuranga - Maori & Pacific Island Leadership Team

By Jacobi Kohu-Morris | Posted: Wednesday January 1, 2014

2014 has been a hugely successful year for Maori and Pacific Island students at Logan Park.

Our ‘Tupuranga’ leadership team has again led the Kapa Haka and Pacific Island Pearls cultural dance groups, the afterschool Homework Club, the Nga Manu Korero and Polyfest events as well as meetings with University and Polytechnic leaders on our future career aspirations.

All of these projects/events have enhanced our presence throughout the school, and even the nation, with our presence at the National Nga Manu Korero speech contests in Napier in September this year. Not only that, but the Education Review Office also reported on our style of student leadership to use as a model in other schools around the country. This is because our leadership is making a difference.

This difference can be seen in the massive change in our afterschool Homework Club, in the Whanau Room on Thursday afternoons. Last year, we only had about 10 on average turning up and participating. Whereas this year, that average has flourished nearly three-fold. What was also fantastic was the fact that we also attracted non-Maori students, who saw the club as an effective way of finishing off those dreaded internals. This was in large part to the tutorage on the part of some of our school teachers. We especially thank Mr Pirie, Miss Fraser and Ms Brinsley for their consistent support. Thanks to the Homework Club and the specialist help, our initiative has meant that Maori and non-Maori students alike, are getting their work done and banking those all-important credits. This has been fantastic to see.

At the beginning of the year, we changed our name from the boring Maori & Pacific Island Leadership Teams into the amalgamated Tupuranga name. This name is derived from the Tuvaluan word ‘tupu’, meaning chief; and the Maori word ‘ranga’, descending from the words rangatahi (youth) and rangatira (chiefs). We felt that this best represents who we are as a group, with the cultural element giving us our sense of focus.

However, although we might be these “young chiefs”, some can’t stay at school forever. Unfortunately, in 2015 we won’t have our Kaitiaki (Maori & Pacific Island Prefects) here to be leading us anymore. I’d like to pay our most sincerest and special thanks to Runa Falanitule and Karen Penaia who have been stalwarts of Tupuranga since its inception.

Runa has been basically instrumental in leading our school Kapa Haka group while Karen has singlehandedly created the P.I Pearls, who have been frequent show-stoppers on many Dunedin stages. It seems hugely fitting that both Runa and Karen have won the LPHS Mana Pounamu and Pacific Island Senior Awards for 2014, only small tokens of the school’s appreciation for their huge dedication. Without these two, Tupuranga would not have been anywhere near as successful as it has been. You’re both real rangatira.

We also thank Ms Brinsley for being our guide and mentor for many years. She never ceases to amaze us with her ideas and passion for Maori and Pacific Island development.

Tupuranga will continue to grow in 2015 — it’ll be ka pai.