Kohanga reo celebrates 30th birthday

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012
Te Kohanga Reo Nga Hau E Wha
SO PROUD: Veronica Marsden, left, one of the first pupils to attend Te Kohanga Reo Nga Hau E Wha 30 years ago, andTe Kohanga Reo National Trust South Island district manager Catherine Stuart.

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A large crowd of youngsters gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Te Kohanga Reo Nga Hau E Wha yesterday.

About 200 people from all Southland kohanga reo took part in the celebrations, which started with a powhiri at Nga Hau E Wha Marae, followed by activities for the children at Blue's rugby ground.

The day ended with a hakari (feast) and tree planting for kaumatua who had died.

It took licensee Aimee Turner-Kawe three months to organise the event with the kohanga reo whanau. "It's a great day to share and celebrate. It's lovely to see all the little smiling faces," she said.

Veronica Marsden was one of the first pupils to attend the kohanga when it opened in 1982 and her children also attended.

It was an important place where children could learn tikanga, which led them to become stronger members of the Maori community, she said.

"It gave me a sense of belonging. I feel so proud that it has come a long way and is still staying strong," she said.

Te Kohanga Reo National Trust South Island district manager Catherine Stuart, who is based in Christchurch, said she wanted to support and celebrate the success of the first Southland kohanga.

It was the longest operating in the South Island, she said.

"Our philosophy is to set our children up for life, where they learn values, beliefs and the language of the Maori community."

collette.devlin@stl.co.nz

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