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Celebrating the end of the 2019 school year Flaxmere-style

Our primary schools have wrapped up for the year, and there has been a lot of fun going on as they celebrated the year of hard work they have put in.

For Kimi Ora Community Schools year 7 and 8 students, the first week of December was all about camping – but it was not your usual school camp.

Their version was a cycle-tour of Hastings and Napier, following the region’s cycle trails, ending up with two days of fishing, swimming and playing cards at Clifton Beach. “The kids are loving it; biking and camping – no screens, no phones,” said principal Matt O’Dowda.

The idea came about after the students cycled from school to the library earlier in the year. “They were so into that, that we thought why not make it bigger for the school camp.”

They 26 students and their teachers and volunteers left school on the Monday (December 2), cycling to Napier to stay at Kennedy Park Motor Camp for two days while they explored Maori history sites in the area.

Day three saw them head towards Clive, stopping in at Waitangi Regional Park to see the Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, before cycling around to Clifton Motor Camp for two days of exploring the coast.

They were armed with tents, however six students decided they would make their own tent to sleep in, from driftwood and a tarp, adding to their camping experience.

By the time they got back to school they had biked almost 100 kilometres; learning a whole lot of stuff along the way while having a heap of fun.

The whole of Flaxmere Primary School turned out to the annual TOA Tabloids Celebration Day at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park on December 6. After a morning full of water-themed rounds, the waka races were on.

Principal Robyn Isaacson said the waka races had been a feature of the day for eight years. It had developed from the history of the Ngaruroro River, which had once flowed through Flaxmere.

While most of the waka had been made in the run-up to the event, one wooden waka dated back to the original race in 2011. “The day was fantastic,” said Robyn. “It’s about celebrating our achievements for the year in a fun way that we can all enjoy together.” There was plenty of sun on what was a 30-degree day, so the water play was much appreciated and there was plenty of sunblock to go around the 500-plus students.

It has been a ‘rolling maul’ of events at Irongate School – from the annual seniors’ leavers dinner to the full school awards night, to a Year 7 and 8 challenge to walk from the school to Splash Planet for a day of water fun.

Kapa haka groups, school bands, vocalists and Polyfest performers put in a huge amount of practice before hitting the stage for the awards night, said deputy principal Tony McCann. “It’s a huge success every year – the students love it, whanau love it and we love it. It’s an incredible way to end the year.”

Just days later Irongate’s Year 7 and 8 students took up the challenge to walk from the school to Splash Planet – a good 10 kilometres. There was no pressure, with the school van doing round trips picking up those who only wanted to go part way. But five stalwarts and their deputy principal Tony McCann made it in just under two hours. All were rewarded with several hours of water play before taking a bus back to the school.


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