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Dressed to impress . . . Waimate High School teachers Nicole Solomon and Stuart Albrey and pupils (from left) Alex Kuti (14), Dillon Proffitt (15), Storm McKenzie (15) and Jaden Meynell (15) are pleased with their school's new kapa haka uniforms. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Waimate High School is proud to embrace its cultural roots.

Earlier this month, the school held a special assembly to celebrate the gift of a Maori design which had been created for a kapa haka uniform.

The design was created by Stuart Albrey, who teaches agriculture, and art teacher Nicole Solomon.

After working on the project for six months, Mr Albrey said he was satisfied with the final product.

“I’m really pleased with it,” he said.

The design was made using Mr Albrey’s knitting machine and has an intricate pattern as well as red, white and green elements, which represent both the school and parts of the Waimate district.

Waimate High School principal Janette Packman said it was a proud moment to accept the gift on behalf of the school.

“Culturally this is very important, because it is about being proud of who we are and the place we represent,” she said.

“Our links with the natural resources of our area are central to determining who we are as a people and how we interact with the land, the water, the sky.”

Mr Albrey said he often had to pull the yarn apart and start again if any mistakes were made during the design process.

“What I had to do was knit it consistently – you get through and you might drop a stitch, and so you see there’s a big hole through here, so off it comes and you start again.”

The design was shown off publicly when members of the school’s kapa haka group wore the new uniforms at a festival recently.

Miss Solomon said she was also pleased with the new uniform design.

“I am really happy – it’s still a work in progress,” she said.

It had been a big job to get the uniforms to the point they were at and “that’s kind of the end of this project this year,” Miss Solomon said

Next year, the project would involve making pupu skirts with the Waimate Community Kapa Haka Group and weavers from the Waihao marae.

“I’ll be talking to those two groups about who would like to be involved in that project,” Miss Solomon said.