A Celebration of Cultures, acknowledging diversity at Sacred Heart College, is the realisation of year 13 leader Delilah Savaiinaea’s vision.
The event held during the Māori New Year of Matariki saw students dressed in traditional clothing showcase their culture’s customs and practices.
As cultural leader, Delilah felt it was important to pay homage to where each student is from.
“I realised over the last four years that while we are a multicultural school, not all cultures are expressed, so this year I set myself a goal to make sure that in every possible way we express every culture.”
The school leadership team has given her a list of all the cultures that are represented in the school, and she is slowly but surely finding ways to “celebrate and help them express where they come from”
It seemed fitting to bring all cultures together for Matariki given that it represents the start of a new year, Delilah said.
The 15 school leaders introduced themselves in a different language associated with the school and opening and closing prayers in Samoan and Vietnamese were said.
Apart from two international students from Japan, the rest of the girls are domestic students who were either born overseas or have ancestors from a different culture.
Pasifika performances, Indian dancing, presentations, and much more were showcased.
Sacred Heart College principal Maria Neville-Foster said it was a “beautiful coming together” of cultures within the school.
Though they try to embrace all cultures at SHC, this was the first time an event of its kind had been held at the school. “Every culture is to be celebrated with equal merit and that’s what we achieved.”
Mrs Neville-Foster said the display of cultures was “stunning”.
“As a Catholic school, we cherish cultures and we think that being able to celebrate your own culture gives yourself an intrinsic pride about who you are, and where you and your ancestors come from.
“We would hope that would then make our girls feel a greater belonging within our community and therefore would feel more connected to our community and more appreciated for who they are, not what they are.”
It also represents the school’s values of inclusion and acceptance, as well as “celebrating that we are all made in the image and likeness of God”.
Earlier this month, Samoan Independence Day was celebrated with prayers and hymns in the Mission Centre.
Delilah, who is of Samoan heritage, grew up with the traditions and says it is important for them to recognise the day particularly given that this year they weren’t able to go to church at the time due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Her cousin and last year’s cultural leader Jessie Matauli Maletino who was home from University came to commemorate the occasion with her SHC sisters.
She was instrumental in starting the raising of the Samoan flag last year and her cousin decided to carry it on.
The combined SHC and St John’s College Fia Fia night which is held yearly to celebrate Pasifika students was postponed until a later date due to Covid-19.
“That’s something that we’re really proud of and I feel like if other girls did this, it would encourage them to carry it on into the next generation,” Delilah said.