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Aoraki Mt Cook School Celebrates New Pou

Media release for immediate use 11 December 2009

Aoraki Mt Cook School Celebrates New Pou

Aoraki Mt Cook School will celebrate its new Purakau Pou (story telling Post) at a ceremony for the local community on 12 December 2009.

The Pou, inspired by Pou Whenua or indigenous totems, is part of the school’s redevelopment to improve its facilities for the school’s increasing roll. A new entrance was constructed, kitchen facilities updated and a landscaped outdoor learning area was developed.

The Pou and outdoor learning area received funding from the Meridian Waitaki Community Fund.

Artist and carver Gavin Britt worked with the school children to paint, carve and build the Pou. The school also consulted Raukura Gillies, an Environmental Studies and Maori Advisor from Canterbury University.

“The new Pou features icons of significance to this area including our native flora and fauna, stars and other elements from the sky, and our lakes and mountains,” says Aoraki Mount Cook School Principal Bu Windsor. “The children were very interested to learn about the history of the region and enjoyed exploring ways of expressing its identity in a way that is meaningful to them.

“The Pou will also help demonstrate the special relationship tangata whenua have with the national park and community and it will be an inspiration for the children’s learning and story telling as it records aspects of the legend of Aoraki,” she says.

Aoraki Mount Cook School children will perform a powhiri to welcome guests and a market and fair will follow the opening. Guests will also be invited to take a tour of Bowen Bush which the school received funding from the Meridian Waitaki Community Fund to undertake restorative work.

Mat Bayliss, Meridian’s Asset Maintenance Manager, says the initiative will be of great value to the local community.

“The redevelopment of Aoraki Mount Cook School will benefit its students and staff by providing an excellent recreational and learning facility for children,” he says. “It was great that the children were able to have an input into the Pou’s creation and our team is looking forward to seeing it. It will also give visitors to the area an understanding of our history and identity.

“We are sure the new landscaped learning area will also be enjoyed by the children and local families for many years to come.”

The Meridian Waitaki Community Fund is to the value of $1 million over three years and is managed by a panel of community members and Meridian staff, who work together to help decide which local initiatives are supported.

To find out more about the Meridian Waitaki Community Fund visit

Applications for consideration in the next round must be submitted by 30 March 2010.


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