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Opunake High School

Region: Taranaki/Whanganui/Manawatu

Art form: Ngā Toi Māori

Project name: Toi Ora (Living Art)

Creative name

Project information: In 2021, Te Kura Tuarua o Opunake doors will have been open for education for 100 years. In 1982, the high school experienced a massive fire, which required refurbishing on a large scale. During the rebuild, an installation of Whakairo and Tukutuku representing the tangata whenua and their history were included in the main foyer. These taonga were constructed by local experts who were helped by young Māori and Pākehā on local Project Employment Programmes or PEP schemes in the district. 

The name of the project Toi Ora (Living Arts) denotes that Māori Art is a living Art that embodies all of creation and continues to live even in its inanimate state. The stories told by way of Whakairo, Tukutuku, Raranga, and Kōwhaiwhai encapsulate the minds and hearts of the people. The values and beliefs find their voice in pepeha (sayings) and whakataukī (proverbs) of the people. It is with these things in mind that we seek to understand and discover some of the histories of the place that we live in, and to interpret and tell the stories using the Art forms of Whakairo, Tukutuku, Raranga, and Kōwhaiwhai. Marae visits and resource gathering sites are sources of knowledge that students, teachers, and parents will interact with using kawa (protocols) and tikanga (customs) that are unique to our local area. The harvesting of natural materials will be carried out in a sustainable manner, which the participants will learn during this time. 

With the upcoming 100th Jubilee for Opunake High School, and the establishment of the Wharenui, we believe that a growing sector of our school community will have the skills and knowledge to contribute by using some if not all the art forms identified in this project. In 2022 the Aotearoa Histories Curriculum will begin in our school. We will be starting with our Year 9 students and will continue with these same students in Year 10. We intend to incorporate this project into the learning taking place amongst our students so that they can tell the stories in what could be considered a uniquely Māori way.

Project starting: February 2022

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