Māori and Pacific communities collaborate to build unique fale

In what is believed to be a first, a fale co-designed by local Pacific and Māori communities has opened at Glen Eden Primary School in West Auckland.

It’s been an extremely wet week in Tāmaki Makaurau, but the sun comes out at exactly the right time for Glen Eden Primary School’s big event. Ākonga are dressed to perform and kaiako hand out lei woven in school colours to the parents and dignitaries streaming through the gates.

The star of today’s event is a fale in the school grounds, a breathtakingly beautiful structure which has been a two-year labour of love by artists and iwi.

Sāmoan designer Lama Tone designed and built the fale; Cook Islands kai whakairo (master carver) David Maruariki carved the pou; and Tongan artist Filipe Tohi used the traditional art of lalava to create the decorative lashings/bindings. Each lashing is unique and tells a story such as of the fishing nets or the stars.

Partnering with Mana whenua

Before any work began, the designer and school principal met with Mana Whenua Te Kawerau ā Maki to obtain permission.

“I was not going to build this fale without the blessings of mana whenua first,” says Lama.

Principal Donna Soljan treasures memories of the process, right from concept.

“It was a very special experience for me to sit in on meetings with people who have so much knowledge – Lama, David, and Robin Taua-Gordon, Pou Tangata at Te Kawerau ā Maki. It was a privilege to listen to their histories and the fale being planned around that.

Group of students

Tamaiti perform a traditional Samoan dance.

See the rest of the article on the Education Gazette website(external link). You may as well check out the other articles (Issuu website)(external link) while you’re there!

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