Colour and costume, hours and hours of choreography and dance; and what beautiful display of dancing it was, to the beat of drums that filled the National Auditorium and the hearts of all those fortunate enough to catch the Tereora College Cultural Night.
It was a cultural extravaganza and with all the time, work and energy that went into the evening, it would be easy to forget that these were school children, parents and teachers who gave up so many hours of their time so we all could experience the celebration of who we are on stage.
The ute, the ura pa’u, the songs filled the room as one after the other each group each Tereora College anau strutted their stuff.
This is not a show I thought, not some choreographed piece for others eyes, or for those that pay for the pleasure. This was for us, a celebration of who we are, how we demonstrate who we are on stage, and for our eyes, not only but it definitely felt that way.
We can all be encouraged that despite the few, those that fall through the cracks and make headline news, most if not nearly all the young people our mapu that were on stage last night will never have the infamy of being in our newspapers on a Monday morning shamed by their bad decisions and actions.
Most if not nearly all of these students we saw last night will be anonymous to the many of us except those that love and care for them and their families. They will go through life without a blemish and work, have families and contribute as so many of them already do to our economy.
Our youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they clearly displayed on Thursday night they are our leaders for today and we cannot afford to allow their enthusiasm, their drive, their vitality to be squashed or go untapped because as a nation they have so much to offer, now, and not tomorrow.
“Young people today!” I hear people say it gruffly under their breath, and yet I would suggest if we took off our adult lenses that sometimes blind us from memories of our own troubled youth, we may see the potential that sits their waiting to be encouraged, to be afforded the time to listen and speak and to grow into our tomorrow. Because we need to have a good look at the youth of today and remember, they will soon enough be leading our country, setting policies and laws that will affect the quality of our lives in our old age.
If last night is anything to go by, we are in good hands. We have young people who love our culture, love our language and get top quality access to education, teachers and school leadership that are second to none. But we need to support them in their journey, and sadly at the end of the night, only three sponsors made themselves available to support our youth in what was a fantastic night for all.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for Mama Kafo, Air New Zealand and the Bank of the Cook Islands, the night would have ended without the trophies and small prizes that rightly fit the time energy and effort put into the night of cultural celebration.
Let’s get behind our youth wherever we can, because we don’t want to be left out in the cold, or needing their support when they are adults and have the purse strings, only to be shown the same measure of support and gratitude when we are old.