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10 November, 1999

Tuahiwi School

Christchurch is lush with green. I'll keep this in mind for my return north. A few months ago, I got an e-mail from Sue Ross- the principal and senior class teacher of Tuahiwi School in Kaipoi. She invited me to come and speak with the students in her senior class (nine - thirteen year olds), who happened to be almost the same ages as my students on Orcas. Tuahiwi is a tiny school that emphasizes bicultural education. I believe sixty percent of the students are of Maori descent.

Today was visiting day. We were lucky to coordinate it, since I arrived yesterday and the school will be closed for local holidays for the next few days. I drove twenty minutes northwest of Christchurch with Polly Penhale, from the National Science Foundation. When we arrived, two of the older boys came out to meet us. I felt like a celebrity! Sue brought the entire student body out (all sixty kids!), and they welcomed me with a number of songs and dances, including a "Haka"- the Maori war dance. I had a wonderful time talking with the seniors after the performance, and wish I could re-visit them after I leave the ice. Unfortunately, they'll be out of school by then.

All the students in the school came out to sing and dance for us!

Some of the boys in the back were featured dancers in the "Haka". New Zealand's rugby team, the All Blacks, begins each game with a Haka. It is a dance full of grimaces, call and response, and menacing stomping. It's meant to intimidate the opposing team. I'll bet it works!

The kids in Sue's class were very polite and asked some really good questions. Since they live relatively "close" to Antarctica, compared to students in the US, they were already quite familiar with the southern continent.

Some of these students will be graduating in December. They'll be moving on to the high school after school starts up again after their summer break. Remember, the seasons are opposite ours down here!

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