Carving a distinctive character

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A unique frame created by a Waitati carver has been unveiled at Hampden School.
The frame, which features traditional Maori design and is mounted around the door to the school’s main classroom, was revealed to members of the public at a ceremony at the school last Friday.
The top panel, made of totara, represents the sea, the Moeraki boulders and the local community, while the side panels, carved from English oak, represent the knowledge that flows in and out of the school, the creeks on either side of the township, fishing and the local community.
The oak came from one of Hampden’s memorial oak trees, planted in memory of the men and women from North Otago killed in World War I, which was destroyed in a storm several months ago.
Hampden School principal John Laing said the carving was “magnificent”. The idea for it came from a discussion with staff about what made New Zealand classrooms special.
“Schools were becoming very homogenised around the world and we were talking about what made schools in New Zealand unique, and what we came up with was Maori culture. We wanted something to reflect that Maori culture.”It was funded through profits raised at the school’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014, private individuals, and the school’s board of trustees.
“It’s been a real community effort to get this up,” he said.
Before the carving was unveiled, it was blessed by Moeraki runanga upoko (head) David Higgins, while children from the school sang two waiata to mark the occasion.

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