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Schools loud and proud in culture showcase

Flagstaff Team

Hands in the air… Westlake Girls and Boys High Schools’ Samoan Group gets into the swing of Pupukefest, a cultural concert held on 29 March

Eight schools in the Pupuke Kāhui Ako (Community of Learning) came together at the end of last month to celebrate cultural identity and raise money for families affected by the Christchurch mosque shootings.

More than 400 students from Sunnybrae Primary, Sunnynook Primary, Takapuna Primary, Milford Primary, Takapuna Normal Intermediate, Wairau Intermediate, Westlake Girls High School and Westlake Boys High School performed during the “Pupukefest” concert, held in the Westlake Boys auditorium on Friday, 29 March.

Pupukefest organiser Ritu Sehji said around 1000 people attended the night, with entry by gold coin donation, which was donated to Christchurch families.

Showtime… kapa haka performances by Sunnynook Primary School thrilled the crowd

“The main aim of Pupukefest was to celebrate the cultural diversity within our Pupuke Kāhui Ako and create an opportunity for our whanau – principals, boards of trustees, staff, students, parents and wider community to come together under one roof to celebrate our cultural identity, and take pride in who we are and in our background,” Sehji, a teacher at Westlake Boys, said.

“We wanted to bring the spirit and essence of Polyfest, a national cultural event held annually in Auckland, to all school sectors within our Pupuke Community of Learning with Pupukefest.

The Sunnynook Primary school kapa haka group

“The goal was to have a positive cultural and social impact on the community and for it to be a symbol of us coming together, cooperating and collaborating through the process of preparation, rehearsals and final event.

“Through hosting this event we could extend opportunities to not just secondary schools performing at Polyfest, but also to primary and intermediate schools.

“Pupukefest provided a unique platform for our community and learners to connect, offer a sense of belonging and purpose, contributing to group solidarity. It boosted cultural pride, social engagement and communication, awareness of cultures represented and new knowledge for some in the community.” Peformances on the night included kapa haka, African, Pacific and Korean performances.

A combined group from Westlake Boys and Girls performing a Korean cultural dance

This article originally appeared in the April 12 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.