Today, at dawn, we had the pleasure of attending the blessing of a school project that we have been working on in the office for the last six years. We have worked with the school and the Ministry of Education, since 2013, master planning their site and developing a project that grew from two additional classrooms to a new block which incorporates eighteen new class spaces, administration, staff facilities, a hall, and music facilities.
Later this week the school is moving from their temporary facilities into the first stage of this project which comprises; the equivalent of fourteen new class spaces in a flexible learning environment, the administration area, and the staff facilities. This will then allow the contractor space to remove the existing relocatable class rooms and finish the new hall and arts spaces.
This morning excited students, parents, staff, ex-students, community members, and the project team assembled before dawn to help the local Kaumatua bless the new building. After a formal silence the blessing was begun and in stages we made our way up the exterior landscape steps stopping at various points to bless parts of the building and to perform the school’s waiata.
Once at the main entrance to the spaces we tried to split the group up into smaller groups (25+) but in reality we ended up in one long-snaking line making our way clock-wise through the three floors of the building. We were encouraged to quietly, or loudly, to pass on our whakapaingia (blessing) to the various parts of the building.
Whakapaingia I nga papa (floors)
Whakapaingia I nga tuanui (ceiling)
Whakapaingia I nga wahanga (space) - etc
(Luckily the school provided blessing guides to everyone)
After the group had finished working our way through the building, we met on the playground again and the Kaumatua invited the people involved to give some short speeches, including ourselves. One of the most interesting of these was from a former student, and later teacher, a member of the local Samoan community. He has been present and involved with the school from its first stone building, built in 1910, through the rebuild of the school in the early eighties, and now helping bless the new main block. It was noted that in his lifetime we have knocked the school down twice to allow it to be completely rebuilt for the next generation of learners.
The event finished with a prayer from one of the other community elders and we left the site washing our hands as we exited so the water could remove the sacredness of the event and allow us to return to the everyday world.
We are excited to soon see the students and teachers take over this space and make it their own.