Te Puna Leavers, from left, Tuhaka Te Pou Kohere, Abbey-Jean Kaipara, Phoenix Karaitiana, Richard Mann, Assina Te Paa-Kolio, Kisepi Ma’afu-Roberts and Tylah Williams. Absent: Princess Elliott.
Te Puna o Wairaka bid a fond farewell to its Year 13 Leavers and celebrated its top students at a special dinner on Monday, November 4 at Te Mahurehure Marae.
There was also a formal hand-over of the kaitātaki wahine (female leader) and kaitātaki tāne (male leader) for the Kapa Haka group in 2020. The sounds of waiata and haka rang out as this year’s leaders Assina Te Paa-Kolio and Kisepi Ma’afu Roberts handed over the ‘mauri’ in the form of a patu and taiaha to the two new leaders: Charlotte Mann and Niua Pomare-Khanna.
Year 13 Leavers were also presented with pounamu but not before teachers Whaea Waimirirangi Paul and Matua Peter Walters had some fun at their expense, revealing the nicknames they had given the Leavers and the reasons for them.
Headmaster Patrick Drumm was the first speaker on the night – MC’ed by Year 12 students Niua Pomare-Khanna and Tayla Bamber – and he emphasised the importance of Te Puna in keeping te reo alive, empowering Maori students and maintaining diversity at MAGS.
He was followed by musician Pere Wihongi, who gave the audience an entertaining insight into the journey that te reo had taken him on – from competing at and eventually winning speech competition Ngā Manu Kōrero to becoming a television reporter and then a musician. He said being fluent in te reo had opened up doors for him that would otherwise have been shut.
Junior members of Te Puna performed a haka in tribute to the Year 13s, who performed their own thunderous haka towards the end of proceedings.
When it came to the awards, Abbey-Jean Kaipara won the Top Senior Academic Award and was named All-Round Top Senior Student.
Richard Mann won the “Manu Tute” Award For Services to Puna and the wider community, while Assina Te Paa-Kolio received the “He toka tū” Award For Contribution to Kapa Haka.
Bree Tipene was All-Round Top Junior Girl, and the All-Round Top Junior Boy was Isaiah Nin. The Top Junior Academic Award went to Nikora Morehu.
The award for Top Senior Māori Language Orator went to Niua Pomare-Khanna, and Te Waaka Popata-Henare was named Top Junior Māori Language Orator.
When it came to sports achievement, Princess Elliott won the senior award and Stella-Rose Woodman the junior award.
In their farewell speeches, Assina Te Paa-Kolio and Richard Mann wished their fellow leavers all the best and paid tribute to Whaea Miri and Matua Peter for their patience and perseverance. They both said that Te Puna o Wairaka had enriched their lives in ways that they couldn’t have imagined and were grateful for the opportunities it offered.