Embracing Maori culture brings success

SHARE

For Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils Cheyenne Coels and Kayla Akurangi-Pirika, embracing Maori culture is a big part of their lives.
Cheyenne (17) and Kayla (14) were among a group of secondary school pupils from North Otago recognised at the Mana Pounamu Young Achievers’ Awards.
The awards acknowledge the achievements of Maori in Otago secondary schools and aim to inspire them to consider tertiary education as a natural progression.
Cheyenne, a year 13 pupil, also won a Mana Pounamu award when she was in year 11, so it was extra special to earn a second.
“It was quite surreal, really. I didn’t expect the first one, let alone a second. Looking back at what’s happened between then and now, it’s really cool.”
Year 10 pupil Kayla was also delighted.
“I was surprised … but it’s quite an honour to receive it on behalf of the school.”
She believed the school had done in a good job in regards to Maori cultural aspects, but would like to see more emphasis placed on it.
“For me, personally, I would say we have tried bringing Maori culture through more. It’s not too strong here, but we are trying to make it stronger.”
Cheyenne agreed, but felt the school would benefit from a full time Te Reo teacher.
“I think it’s hard because we don’t have a Maori teacher. Mrs Ingram is amazing _ she does the best she can do for the school, which is awesome.”
Kayla is the leader of the school’s kapa haka group and a member of the cultural council, while Cheyenne is the leader of the Waitaki Girls’ Mana Wahine group for Maori pupils and is involved with the school’s blue light and health groups.
She also represents the school in rugby, netball and basketball.
Next year, Cheyenne planned to study a bachelors degree in sports coaching and complete some media papers at the University of Canterbury.
“I wanted to do something I enjoy and something I’ll want to do a long time,” she said.