Flag flies as St Joseph’s school marks Māori language week

Flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag is one way St Joseph’s Catholic School in Upper Hutt is celebrating Māori language week.

On Monday, the school raised it for the first time on its new flagpole.

The change was the brainchild of 12-year-old student and cultural leader Mitchell Wallace (pictured).

His goal for his final year at the school was to have a flagpole erected at the school to celebrate its diversity.

“For language weeks, most of the time we only did small activities, so I thought if we got a flagpole, we’d be able to hang those flags during the week,” he says.

The first step was to write to the school’s principal to get permission for the proposal. Principal Andrew Herrick agreed.

Then Wallace began a campaign to raise the $570 needed for the pole and its seven flags.

Wallace (Taranaki Iwi) planned to raise money by selling hāngī and custard steam puddings during Matariki week.

To market the fundraiser, he put posters up around Upper Hutt.

Surpassing his initial target – to sell 100 hāngī and 50 steam puddings – Wallace eventually sold 180 hāngī and 78 puddings. He raised over $850.

Money left over from buying the flagpole was donated to the school to help with its breakfast club and lunch programme.

Wallace, with help from his father, chose the site for the new flagpole. He then poured the concrete base needed and assembled the flagpole last weekend.

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag was flown first to mark the start of Māori Language Week.

Flag etiquette

Wallace’s collection includes flags for Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Matariki week, and the New Zealand Ensign national flag.

Wallace said the hardest part of the project had been learning all the rules about flag etiquette.

He found you can’t fly or put them on the ground at night. Nor can you put up a ripped flag because it’s seen as “disrespectful”.

All 580 pupils from St Joseph’s School turned out to celebrate the new pole with a blessing ceremony on Monday morning.


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News category: New Zealand.

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