The first day, and a pōwhiri.

I have been at my new school for about a week now trying to get myself organised. I have set up my new office and done some lesson planning for the first few weeks. I have also been hard at work placing students in the correct classes. Course counselling has been going on all last week for students who have been coming in to try and make sure that their timetables will be ready for this week when they begin their classes.

Today is the first official day for staff! It is customary in New Zealand schools to have a pōwhiri to welcome new staff or students to the school. Since my new school is so large, they had a pōwhiri just for the staff to welcome other new staff.

For those who don’t know, a pōwhiri is a Māori welcoming ceremony involving speeches, dancing, singing and finally the hongi. Both the people who are welcoming and the people who are being welcomed are expected to participate.

I decided that I would get involved. At our new staff meeting last week, I decided to teach the other new staff members the karakia, or song, that was our staff karakia at my previous school.

Whakataka te hau ki te uru
Whakataka te hau ki te tonga

Kia mākinakina ki uta
Kia mātaratara ki tai

E hī ake ana te atakura
He tio, he huka Tīhei mauri ora!

The karakia has a beautiful melody but it also has a beautiful meaning:

Cease the winds from the west
Cease the winds from the south

Let the breeze blow over the land
Let the breeze blow over the ocean

Let the red-tipped dawn come with a sharpened air. 
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day.

I was really proud to play and sing this karakia at the pōwhiri today. I got a lot of compliments.

The head of drama and the head of music have both already approached me asking if I would like to help in their departments with production and helping with music. I told them that I would definitely be interested once I got myself situated within the school.

It was a lovely start to my first official day.