New name for school ‘a privilege’

A new name with significant cultural ties to the land and the coast has been given to a North Otago primary school.

Te Pakihi o Maru was unveiled as Oamaru North School’s new name yesterday, in a ceremony led by Te Runanga o Moeraki chairman Justin Tipa.

Mr Tipa performed a karakia in front of school pupils and staff, the board of trustees, community members, runanga upoko David Higgins, and Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher.

Attending a cultural blessing to unveil Oamaru North School’s new name Te Pakihi o Maru, which...
Attending a cultural blessing to unveil Oamaru North School’s new name Te Pakihi o Maru, which took place yesterday morning, are (from left) Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, Te Pakihi o Maru principal Stacey Honeywill, Te Pakihi o Maru board of trustees chairman Peter Middlemiss, Te Runanga O Moeraki chairman Justin Tipa and Te Runanga O Moeraki upoko David Higgin. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE
The runanga created and gave the name to the school. Maru represented the deity of the sea for the Oamaru coastline, and Pakihi referred to the flat land in the town.

"It’s a nod to the place, to the area and a continuation of the traditional naming of the area," Mr Tipa said.

Naming the school was an honour, and the runanga was more than happy to be part of the evolution of the school’s relationship.

While it was a Maori name, it was not exclusive — it was for everyone in the community.

"We’re really pleased with the engagement from the school leadership, and the way they are championing the whole kaupapa.

"It’s great to see whether it be schools, corporations and businesses mature, and want to acknowledge the Maori language and the Maori culture."

Principal Stacey Honeywill said she was proud the new name had a rich meaning behind it for the community.

"I think it’s a privilege to be honest, to have that name. I’m super proud actually of the name, and the thought that has gone into it by Justin and David," Mrs Honeywill said.

"I think it really sits well with our school."

Discussions surrounding a name change began as the school was under limited statutory management — which was removed last December — and Mrs Honeywill was asked if she would consider changing the name.

Speaking with the school’s board of trustees and statutory manager Cleave Hay, the group saw it as a positive change, and undertook a school community survey last year.

About 67% of the community said they would support a name change, and she felt it was important to have a Maori name to represent the multicultural school.

"It was important, and we talked about it as staff. New Zealand is bicultural and to have a name that was unique we felt that it had to be a Maori name to give it the uniqueness that we wanted."

There would be a "teething period", but a new website would be loaded within two months, and the name would be on the school uniform soon.

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

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