Pou whenua signal the start of a new dawn

From left: Jonty Craig, 4, Tamati de Wildt, 4, and Maui de Wildt, 5, stand by Mayfield Kindergarten's new protector ...
RACHEL MCFADDEN/FAIRFAX NZ

From left: Jonty Craig, 4, Tamati de Wildt, 4, and Maui de Wildt, 5, stand by Mayfield Kindergarten's new protector Rongomatane, the guardian of peace.

As the sun rose on Monday, the Mayfield Kindergarten community welcomed a new day,  a new year (Matariki) and a new look for their kindergarten. 

It is the first kindergarten in Marlborough to have pou whenua (Maori wooden posts). 

But the pou whenua are more than just decorative, Mayfield head teacher Kathryn Richards says. 

Paora Mackie is the artist behind the pou whenua unveiled at Mayfield Kindergarten on Monday.
RACHEL MCFADDEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Paora Mackie is the artist behind the pou whenua unveiled at Mayfield Kindergarten on Monday.

"They represent the kindergarten's commitment to bi-cultural learning.

"The pou whenua connects us to the elements and the Maori guardians feature heavily in our teachings," she says. 

Kathryn says the kindergarten is proud to develop a unique Kiwi identity in its pupils, an identity that embraces and celebrates shared cultures. 

After two years of consultation, the Mayfield Kindergarten community decided on three Maori guardians to watch over the kindergarten, she says. 

Rongomātāne is the guardian of peace, welcoming visitors to the kindergarten and watching over the community, Tangaroa is the guardian of the sea, a celebration of the essence of life, and Tāne Mahuta is the guardian of the forest and its creatures. 

The artist beyond the pou whenua, Paora Mackie, says it is with great pride and humility that the pou whenua watch over the kindergarten.

"There is a piece of me, a piece of my family, my iwi and my whanau [in these carvings]," he says. 

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Paora has been working on the pou whenua for the past few months after finishing work as a Maori support worker at the hospital. 

"I get lost in carving. It is where I can be myself. There is a certain energy in it, like an awakening," he says. 

 - Stuff

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