Mahi Tahi - Working Together

Posted Thursday March 7, 2024

Wednesday, 6 March, was Work Day. Everyone knows that – it meant no school! ​But that didn’t mean that there was no ​mahi​, no work for ​​​kaiako​​​!​

​​​While our ​rangatahi​ (young people) were out in the community, at home and on farm, our kaiako, teachers, were engaged in a day of Special Character Professional Learning planned by Bridget Ryan, Deputy Principal Teaching and Learning, and Brendan Terry, Director of Religious Studies.​​ Here’s what they have to say about our Work Day…

Image by: Amy-Rae Rooijackers

​​This slide, which clearly states the purpose of St Peter’s College (Hato Petera) was the foundation of everything ​we​ did on our PL Day.​ The point was to look at what it is that sets us apart as a Special Character school. ​High quality school leaving qualifications is clearly not the answer, as any school can provide that.​ Rather, it is all about Jesus, and how we live, breathe and transmit ​his teachings, and are inclusive of all people, with a particular mission for those whom society deems to be “on the margins”. ​

The first session of the day focused on our role as both a Church and Crown entity in Aotearoa and our obligation to truly give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. ​As a Roman Catholic school we remember​

"In the Treaty of Waitangi, we find the moral basis for our presence in Aotearoa New Zealand and a vision that sets this country apart." 
                                                         - New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference 1995

​​The fantastic Loretta Schmidt (Ngā Puhi/Samoan) from the Ministry of Education led the morning session.​ She explained the differences between the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its four principles, the last of which was the work of Bishop Pompallier. Kaiako then spent time looking at their units of work and where they could show that they were giving effect to Te Tiriti. There was great learning and mahi tahi in and across learning areas.

Following lunch, staff headed to the SPC Chapel to further explore our Catholic Special Character. To their surprise, the chapel had been converted into a television studio complete with cameras, sound, and technicians - thanks to the ever-reliable Peter Moir. Likewise, staff were transformed into a live studio audience complete with a wannabe host. However, before the show could start, staff added two new ​waiata​ to their collective songbook: Te Aroha and Mo Maria. Believe me, there are some fine voices amongst our kaiako.

Our first special guest was Mallory Hood, St Peter’s ex-pupil and, of course, Tumuaki (Principal) of St Mary’s. Mallory was simply inspirational as she spoke about the indelible impact that Catholic Special Character had on her journey. ​Mallory reminded staff that our core role as educators at St Peter’s was to ceaselessly show the unconditional love of Christ to our rangatahi through our actions and words.​

Next, we were honoured to hear from Mrs. Margaret Wilson and Mr. Les Roughan, who shared their memories about the formation of St Peter’s College in the early 1950s. ​With 191 years of life experience between them, Margaret and Les’ stories revealed the incredible aspiration, drive, and commitment of the Catholic community of Eastern Southland.​ Margaret and Les were part of this original community and have had multiple generations of their family educated at St Peter’s. To hear them speak of their gratitude for St Peter’s was incredibly touching and reminded us that we are kaitiaki (stewards) of their vision. 

Margaret Wilson and DRS singing Mo Maria — Image by: Amy-Rae Rooijackers

Les Roughan with his certificate of congratulations from Pope Francis on the occasion of his one hundredth birthday. — Image by: Amy-Rae Rooijackers

The final “guest speaker” was our very own Religious Education Teacher, John Ryan. John gave a brief history of how State Integrated Schools came to be, bringing into sharp focus how St Peter’s was built.
And with John deftly summarising his 20,000 word dissertation on the Integration Act into a neat 15 minutes – kai pai John! - the lights went down and the camera’s stopped rolling.

​​We concluded the day (eventually, because no one actually made a move to leave the Chapel for ages!) inspired by those who had come before us, their hard work, sacrifice and vision as well as their affirmation for all that we have done for their children and grandchildren.​

The day was a real testament to mahi tahi, working together, as the past and present met in our sacred space, our beautiful Chapel, to share our faith and vision for the future. The day was summed up by one kaiako…

“I am a past pupil and current staff member, and my children are 3rd generation students. Today has been a great reminder and refresh to be able to explicitly say why we are here, and why St Peter's is special. I loved hearing “we are not posh, we are not private.” Our founding families dreamt of a Catholic school, for Catholic families in Eastern Southland. We are now entrusted to keep that dream alive for them and for our own families here now. That is our primary purpose and focus – it’s about our faith, it’s about Jesus.”