Cook Island culture highlighted at Ashburton College

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Rere Strickland, year 11, performs at the Ashburton College Cook Island Language Week concert.

Cook Island language and culture was celebrated at Ashburton College last week as part of Cook Island Language Week.

Previously language weeks at the school have been marked by raising a national flag and having a quiz but after a successful performance at Polyfest in Christchurch at the start of the year, the school decided to expand on the occasion.

College principal Ross Preece said the college had 75 students performing at Polyfest, which created a real buzz.

The college group was the second biggest group on stage, he said.

“They felt proud to perform, proud of their cultures and that lead to the idea of performing for the community and they instantly went “yeah!”

The students were asked for input and they were full of good ideas.

As a result a concert and dance performances were held to mark Samoan Language Week earlier in the year, and there were plans to celebrate Tongan Language Week later in the year.

The school held a concert on Friday showcasing Cook Island music and dance.

Head of Ashburton College cultural committee Shrina Afu, who is of Tongan descent, said the committee had organised concerts so students could embrace and celebrate their culture at school.

“It is great to feel that our school cares and appreciates our culture alongside everyone else’s culture,” she said.

She thought it was important to celebrate heritage so it was not forgotten and could be carried on to future generations.

She said Tongan people were very friendly, very loud and hyped.

“We are very supportive of everything our culture is representing, always happy people.”

By Daniel Tobin