Ute is the performance of traditional songs and poems, taught by teacher Saireni Poila.
“This was a lot of fun to do and I got to hang out with my friends,” Tamuera says.
The 11-year-old loves performing. “I like it, especially our culture, it’s really fun and important; our school used to have a lot of kids who could speak Maori but not now, it’s good for us to do these activities.
“I knew all the words, because my mother Nadine teaches me Maori at home too.”
Three schools took part in the ninth annual cultural competition, won this year by Apii Rutaki. Te Uki Ou came second, and Titikaveka college third.
Although only the three schools took part this year, students joined in with enthusiasm and energy in activities ranging from preparing and cooking an umu, to coconut husking and making coconut cream, to weaving, storytelling, ute, drumming and string band ukarere.
Twelve-year-old Ruby Nixon helped Te Uki Ou prepare their umu, which included making varaoa karo (angry bread), peeling taro, pumpkin and maniota, and marinating the chicken and pork ribs.
The judges were impressed – but they loved Rutaki’s umu even more. “We should’ve cooked ours for maybe a half hour more to make sure it was cooked well; but we did our best,” says Ruby. “I like umu food, it tastes and smells nice and is cooked naturally.”
Jesse Easterbrook, 12, has been drumming since he was just three years old. His favourite instrument is the pate and the pau mango: “I just love drumming, we came second but it was great,” he says.
“You’ve got to practise and practise to get in the team and be a drummer – practice makes perfect.”
But one of his highlights for the day wasn’t even a category he competed in: “The umu food tasted good!”
Rutaki won the umu, weaving and string band ukarere.
Te Uki Ou won the coconut husking and ute,
Titikaveka College won the storytelling and drumming