One thousand five hundred students at Kāpiti College took part in a massive haka today for victims of the Christchurch massacre.
They were watched by the NZ Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, in an historic visit to Kapiti College.
The students included a small group from Paraparaumu College — and elsewhere ceremonies and hakas took place at other schools throughout the district.
First, a powhiri at the Marae (photo on right)
The Governor General, Mayor K Gurunathanan, fifteen hundred students and dozens of teachers and visitors listened first to the haunting sounds of the call to prayer by a Muslim leader relayed from Christchurch.
Then minutes of absolute silence on the College’s playing fields, broken only by the buzz from a small light plane taking off from the local airport.
The massive haka in remembrance
Then, led by the school’s Maori group, the massed students chanted a spine-tingling rendition of the college’s haka ‘Kapiti.’
Dame Reddy thanked the students for an ‘amazing haka on a sad occasion.’
‘Our country will never be the same,’ she said, ‘and this is a scar on our country.’
But, she said, ‘we will remember that we must be one people.’
‘We must welcome everyone’
She reminded the gathering that New Zealanders comprised people from many different cultures. ‘We welcome everyone,’ she said.
And she said it was ‘up to us to make sure that everyone welcomes’ the migrants.
Earlier, the Governor-General and her Vice-regal group, and Mayor K Gurunathan, his wife Clare, and deputy Mayor Janet Holborow were officially welcomed to the area with a powhiri at the College Marae.
Mayor Gurunathan thanked Dame Patsy for her surprise visit — and told the crowd:
‘We are one. We will not be terrorised!’
Shortly after 2pm the Vice-Regal group departed, no doubt taking with them indelible memories of an amazing occasion, linking everyone at the college with the people of Christchurch and mourners from around the Globe.
Anthony Dreaver reports
It was grand. Patsy Reddy was certainly there.
All of Kapiti College filled three spaces to form the Raukura – feathers of Te Whiti – with a smaller contingent of Paraparaumu College at the meeting point in front.
The kids were great. Orderly but young-spirited. A small group of locals, including Jen and me, watched from the ridge overlooking the field.