Current Masterchef winners Kasey & Karena visited schools around Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) this week bringing excited smiles and igniting the belief that kids from small towns can ‘dream big too’.
Their schedule included a morning at Northland College where their mother Atarangi taught and attended, a visit to Rawene School where Karena’s namesake is the new Principal, and then on to Waima where mum Atarangi was raised and went to school.
At Waima the small entourage were met by an ‘all tamariki’ powhiri as the senior students of Waima School took the lead in welcoming the celebrities and their whanau onto the school. The opportunity was used practice putting into place the tikanga (traditions) of their hapu (sub tribe) Te Mahurehure. Young Elyse Williams called their guests on with her first ever karanga (traditional call) after which fellow student Cornelius Fakahua led those gathered in karakia (prayer). Mustering up the courage, young Caleb Thompson delivered his mihi (welcome speech) and the whole school sang with gusto in support.
Excitement in the children was evident as they heard how Kasey and Karena started their educational journey at a small school just like theirs and recounted the series of events that led them to success on the television show Masterchef NZ. Mother Atarangi shared stories from her childhood about what the school looked like when she lived there and went to school in Waima. Tales of rope swings along the line of pine trees by the river would have made today’s health & safety guru’s cringe but the more Mrs Te Awa-Bird shared, the more students began to picture the life of a student at Waima School in a time gone by.
The Masterchef winners were gifted some Waima School apparel and some ‘school values’ wrist bands when they arrived and were farewelled with a gift of some peruperu (small potatoes) that students Nevayah & Moana had dug out of the school gardens that morning. The hope being that the authentic ingredient might inspire more of the culinary excellence the two ladies are renowned for. When asked what they were having for dinner tonight the response was “we’re having a boil-up made for us” which brought forward giggles from children for whom that is standard fare.
The visit illustrated how celebrities with small town beginnings can bring a sense of wonder and excitement to students who otherwise may not have the courage to dream of bigger beginnings to a life of expression and achievement. In one visit these two exceptional young women have flared the flame of hope in so many children throughout the Hokianga.
Thank you Kasey, Karena, and family for taking the time to visit us in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland).