Celebration of cultures for Sacred Heart and St. John’s College

Posted: March 28, 2024Category: Uncategorized

Celebration of cultures for Sacred Heart and St. John’s College

Sacred Heart College and St. John’s College came together to celebrate a melting pot of culture through performance and food.

Fiafia: A Night of Cultural Celebrations was held on Friday at St. John’s College, with more than 500 people in attendance.

Following on from the success of previous years, and last year where both schools came together, their student leaders wanted to invite other cultures to be a part of the “beautiful celebration”.

Students, with the support of their teachers and whānau spent the past month perfecting traditional cultural items from here in Aotearoa to the Pacific Islands, as well as the Philippines, India and Japan.

Sacred Heart College principal Maria Neville-Foster and St. John’s College principal George Rogers said it was a wonderful evening that showcased the coming together of communities.

“That's what we saw up on stage and that’s what it’s all about – the connection between two schools. A feeling of belonging, a feeling of support and we could see that support from both whānau and kura alike,” Mrs Neville-Foster said.

“To be able to come and have food together is really powerful and helps to build relationships and allows us to understand each other and where we come from.”

Mr Rogers said it built on the success of last year, when both schools came together to celebrate Fiafia.

“Last year we were offsite and so to experience Fiafia here at St. John's with Sacred Heart College is a real privilege.

“It’s great to have so many people come together to enjoy a combination of many, many hours of work that our students have put in.”

Former Sacred Heart College student Sharese Penitito (2015-2019) and former St. John’s College student Paul Mauga (2014-2018) MC’d the evening.

Paul’s brother Patrick Mauga, a Year 13 at St. John’s College was given the Samoan honour of Manaia.

While Sacred Heart College Deputy Head Girl Teuila Apineru was recognised as Taupou.

“I just felt a lot of pride and I was just so excited to showcase my culture and show our community what my culture is all about,” Teuila said.

She said Taupou is a representation of who they are as Samoan people.

“The task of the Taupou and the Manaia is to perform the Taualuga at the end, which culminates in the most important aspects of our cultural showcase. So, I was really honoured to have that role in our performance.”

St. John’s College Cultural Leader Oliver Tuanaki said he is proud of his Tongan heritage and relishes in the opportunity to share his culture.

His mum, and St. John’s College Chaplain and Pasifika Liaison Faaki Tuanaki says it has been a “blessing” to be a part of the cultural evening since 2006 when their eldest son began at the college.

“It was really a team effort between school and families that put together to make the event a success. Senior students were asked to bring their cultural dance with them and teach their young brothers.”

She says they poured out their best on the stage as they connected to their cultures.

St. John’s College Pasifika Mentor Viliami Lata said it is an awesome opportunity for both communities to mix, mingle, and create relationships.

“Students, mentors, staff and parents went through a journey leading up to Fiafia night. All the sacrifices, time, team effort and commitment were put into the decision-making, planning and preparation.”

Sacred Heart College Teacher Edina McFarland said the idea behind the evening was unity and inclusivity.

“I’ve just loved it. It makes the students feel that their culture is valued, and they can be true to who they are.”