St. John’s College students proudly represented their Samoan culture at a special ceremony held by Hastings District Council.
The Samoan flag was raised outside Council Chambers on Tuesday to acknowledge Samoan Independence Day, which recognises Samoa being the first Pacific Island nation to gain its independence in 1962.
Invited and hosted by the district’s first Samoan councillor, Peleti Oli, more than 20 St. John’s College students performed alongside Raureka Primary School students, in front of members of the Samoan community and other guests.
The students were supported by St. John’s College principal Rob Ferreira and Pasifika liaisons Shelley Oliver (Gateway, STAR and Careers Coordinator) and Faaki Tuanaki (Chaplain).
Safune Lafaele spoke in Samoan, while Meki Savaiinaea addressed the crowd in English. Meki said it was a huge privilege to acknowledge his heritage.
“It is an honour for our culture to be celebrated with everyone and I would like to thank everyone for supporting our culture. It is a blessing.”
Speaking to those gathered, Mr Ferreira thanked Hastings District Council for inviting his students, and said it was an honour.
“As we often say to our students, be proud of your country, be proud of your culture and be proud of where you come from and celebrate it. It’s what makes us all different.”
Hastings District Council Mayor Sandra acknowledged thanked both St. John’s College and Raureka Primary School students for attending on this “very special and important day”.
As part of Samoan Language Week, held from May 30 – June 5, the Samoan Flag is raised at St. John’s College, and Samoan students lead prayers at assembly for the entire week.
Mrs Oliver says the school community is encouraged to use short phrases and words in Samoan and traditional Kopai and Punipopo (coconut dumplings and coconut buns) are made.