What an extravaganza! A night of song and dance and colourful costumes (and maybe a few tears).
Rotokauri Primary School recently held an event – a culmination of a creative idea by teacher Whaea Jo Jo who led and produced this 2023 production. The idea was to explore and celebrate the diversity of cultures within the school community and around the world using the concept of “The Amazing Race”.
Three Amazing Race hosts, Ernie, Isabelle and Liam held the show together, introducing each of the countries and giving out the clues. Their professional manner of approach created a seamless feel throughout the evening.
Three teams of two contestants (Painted Black, The Queens and the Twin Towers) “raced” around the world, stopping at 8 countries to complete challenges and roadblocks before receiving the next challenge and moving through the race. Each country was represented by a different class who had children with whakapapa to that culture. Classes researched and choreographed their own dances and performed these when “contestants” reached their country.
Contestants were challenged to join in the dance performance and complete roadblock tasks relating to that host country. The three teams clearly had a lot of fun pre-recording themselves in front of a green screen to create shots of them travelling between the countries.
To a sold-out audience in the Waikato Indian Association Hall, the Juniors from Room 1 and Room 1a opened the event with waiata Tēnā koe and E rere taku poi. The pride on the faces of teachers and whānau was palpable. Contestants then travelled to Croatia, represented by Room 4. Student Hugo, of Croatian heritage welcomed them and then the class performed a traditional Croatian folk dance. Parent support with learning the dance and arranging costumes for loan from the Dalmatian Society meant that the resulting student dance was delightful.
The race continued to Australia, the Cook Islands, Hawaii and Spain, each stop with more vibrant dances. When the teams landed in China, Room 6 performed both an Umbrella dance and Dragon dance. Here contestants faced a roadblock and had to balance an umbrella on the tip of their finger for 10 seconds – much harder than it sounds when you are on stage in front of hundreds of people!
Room 8 students were on fire with their Bollywood performance in India then in South Africa Room 5 performed an African Drum Dance and “We are the World” in sign language. The final destination was a return to Aotearoa where the Senior Kapa Haka group performed Kia Mau Ki Tō Ūkaipō by Six60!
It was a fabulous night, and it was easy to see the immense pride that the students had developed through performing their creations. Learning about and celebrating the diverse and rich cultural traditions that are part of multi-cultural New Zealand is vital to creating an inclusive society where everyone feels valued. A great example of the Enviroschools Guiding Principle Respect for the Diversity of People and Cultures in action. Ka mau te wehi Rotokauri!