Nga Tawa students are part of the Shared Histories project between France and New Zealand.
It has been set up to commemorate World War 1 from beginning to end. Our two schools, Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton and College Jules Ferry in Conty, have chosen War Horses as our project and we have been exchanging information on the role of the horse during the war. There has been a special focus on Bess, who survived four years of war and is now buried just out of Bulls. We visited her grave together last week and the students were very moved by that visit. I, Carol, have been corresponding with Helene Hatif, the French teacher at their school, since December last year and they arrived in New Zealand on the 23 October and left last week. Of the 20 or so schools who have set up partnerships, we are the first to arrange a visit and we have formed friendships we are promising will last a lifetime. I hope to got to Conty next October, and have also been invited to attend the celebrations in the Somme in May 2016, along with our Principal and the Mayor of the Rangitikei.
On Monday we were photographed in front of the Durie Hill tower which the children thought was quite a unique War Memorial. They all climbed to the top and loved the view of the city. They all took the time to read the plaques at the base of the tower as well. After that we were hosted by Year 13 Maori students at Wanganui High School and learned to use pois and do the haka and hongi.
While in Marton the girls(9) slept in the dormitory with Nga tawa Year 10 girls and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The adults (4) shared a senior cottage on site and the boys (7) were hosted in two local homes. All were in homestays the previous weekend because school was closed. The highlight was the final weekend where we all attended the Hunterville Shemozzle and then headed to Taupo, staying on the lake front in a house kindly offered by a local family. We went to Whakarewarewa and the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua and then had the time of our lives on the Huka Jet boat.
The group left Nga Tawa in floods of tears on Tuesday morning after an unforgettable and very moving trip.
Read the French group story here.