Maori culture celebrated at Arowhenua

Nearly 150 young children danced and performed songs in Maori at the Arowhenua Marae, near Temuka, on Friday morning.

The children, aged 3 and 4 four and divided into 11 groups, smiled at the audience of parents, grandparents, and other members of the local Ngāi tahu community. 

They were there to celebrate Korohi o Te Pepi, an event involving performances by kindergarten-age children.

Second year student teacher Ben Harris was at the event to help supervise and direct the children.

Events like Korohi o Te Pepi were important as they helped kids learn about the concept of multiculturalism, he said. 

"It's about different cultures.

"It's not just about the two main New Zealand cultures (European and Maori), it's about other cultures as well," he said.

Ruamatamaraki Ti Kouka Kindergarten head teacher Caylee Bell said the event was important as it helped the children learn about their Maori background.

"It's vital, absolutely vital," she said.

"It should happen all the time.

"It was awesome coming out to the Marae.

"All the children loved watching their friends perform."

Korohi o Te Pepi project manager Felicity McMillan said the children had done very well, considering they were only 3 and 4 years old and had had to wait all morning to perform. 

Parent and volunteer Andie Kelly said events like Friday's were essential, as they helped the children understand who they were and where they come from.

"I think it's absolutely fabulous that all these young people are doing this.

"It gives them a real sense of belonging and purpose," she said. 

Event MC Bob Katene, who was also there to watch one of his grandchildren perform, said the children really enjoyed this year's event.

"It's been a good day.

"It's been great seeing all the smiles," he said.