I was so nervous to be speaking to an all Maori school. I wanted to use some of the words I was trying to learn… such a beautiful language… and did not want to mess up. After the whole school sang their song to me, I stood up to share the history of where I come from, my Whakapapa. I was asked to sing a song to represent it, and was surprised to be teary-eyed and shaky as John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Road”, about the Shenandoah River and Blue Ridge Mountains, somehow fell out of my mouth. Thankfully a couple of the teachers actually knew the chorus and gave me some vocal support! These Otangarei School kids are strong kaitiakitanga as they are working with the local nursery, He Kakano, to plant native vegetation along the local streambanks. The whole school is really excited to be part of the Tuna Tapestry, and Velvet and I are so grateful for their enthusiasm!
Some of the local kids who work with He Kakano help release a young longfin back to the stream running through Whangarei. We found two eels that day, both with signs of pollution sores on their lips. These kids are caring for the stream and hope to see cleaner water in their watershed, Whangarei Harbor, in their lifetimes.