You are currently viewing Strong show as community comes together
Kerepēhi School students worked hard to produce Birds of a Feather, including making all of the costumes, props and set. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Strong show as community comes together

The birds of Kerepēhi School’s community flocked together to produce and perform the school’s first production in nine years, and teacher Naomi Fisher said the experience had been empowering. 

The 90 tamariki of Kerepēhi School spent most of two terms rehearsing the songs, dances and script for Birds of a Feather. The play, by New Zealand company Hī Hā StoryDance, was specifically written for primary-aged audiences and looks at the importance of protecting the environment. 

It depicts several native birds learning to work together as they fight to protect their bush home from the “baddie” property developers. 

Ad for Coromandel App and the Valley Profile

It also introduces the concept of tangata whenua, and the bilingual script is uniquely Aotearoa, interspersing basic te reo Māori with English. 

“It was important that we involve the whole school,” Naomi said, “[and] that it’s got the culture of our school.”

For the teachers, it was also an opportunity to tie the play’s theme back to their classroom lessons. 

“We’ve been studying local ngahere [bush] for the last year, we’ve got a wetlands area we’re developing at school … we learnt about the kowhai plant and the different parts of the flower, the stamen, the leaves and petals,” Naomi said. 

Choreography was practised each morning, and the students all had a helping hand in making the costumes, props, and set. 

“[The wings] were all second hand materials that we either had donated or got from the op shop … The headbands we made with the feathers,” Naomi said. 

“We’re an enviroschool as well, so it’s all interwoven within our curriculum.”

The community rallied around the school to support the production, Naomi said, drawing parallels to the whakataukī [proverb] at the heart of the play’s theme. 

“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini – It’s not the strength of me alone but the strength of everyone,” she said. 

“It really is a real community effort. We even had some of the parent helpers painting some of the walls too, and helping to hang backdrops … Even just shuttling the kids [to the hall] when it’s been raining.” 

After three sold-out performances, the school is now looking ahead to more shows in future years. 

A few of us were keen on the dance and drama side of things, and we felt like it was time,” Naomi said. 

“We’re wanting to do it every couple of years now. 

“It’s just amazing seeing the kids’ confidence grow. Some of the lead roles are quite shy kids, and they’ve just really stepped up into those roles.”