Competition honours 28th Māori Battalion

7:22 am on 28 August 2015

Three students from a Palmerston North Māori language immersion primary school have won awards in a nation-wide competition that honours the 28th Māori Battalion.

Korakotaiwaha Kawana

Korakotaiwaha Kawana Photo: Supplied

Year 8 student Korakotaiwaha Kawana won the junior Māori section for a song he composed Moe mai rā ngā toa maia.

And Year 12 student Rereao Taite won the senior Māori section for her art piece E kore rātou e koroheketia which focusses on Gallipoli.

The pair who attend Te Kura Kaupapa o Mana Tamariki are the Supreme Award winners of the Ngārimu VC and 28th Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board Challenge.

13-year-old Korakotaiwaha Kawana of Rangitāne and Te Ātihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi descent said his song was inspired by the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers:

"Ka whakaaro au ki ngā tīpuna, ki ngā hoia kua wehe atu ki te pō, ā, katahi ka haere tonu au [ki te tito i taku waiata mai i reira]," hei tāna

"I thought about the ancestors, the soldiers who had died and just continued [composing my song from there]," he said.

A third tauira from Mana Tamariki, Kirihautu Durie, came third in the junior Māori section for her essay He kōrero whakamaumahara.

The acting tūmuaki of Mana Tamariki, Brenda Soutar, of Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou descent, said this reflects how much the students value the 28th Māori Battalion.

"There's a wairua (spiritual) link there too to the deeds of their ancestors," she said.

"We [the kura] try to ensure they [the pupils] understand the freedom that they enjoy today, but also that they carry that legacy and are responsible for future generations."

Minister of Education praises student's achievements

The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, congratulated all of nine winners who took part in the challenge.

"The Challenge asked students to prepare a creative commemoration of the role that Māori played in the World Wars using 21st century tools," said Ms Parata.

"Korakotaiwaha rose to that challenge with an outstanding original waiata which reflected the bravery and sacrifice of the 28th (Māori) Battalion.

"His lyrics wove together the right and privilege of Māori to participate in battle and were beautifully sung."

The two winners of the Supreme Award won $1500 each.