There were cheers and tears, hugs, hongi and handshakes at a poroporoaki at Toihoukura’s Maia Gallery last week to congratulate and farewell 130 students who had just completed a variety of semester one courses.
The ceremony was both a happy and sad time, said EIT Tairawhiti campus director Jan Mogford.
“Happy because of your fantastic achievements and the great relationships you have made, and sad because it’s the end of a journey and time to say goodbye.”
Students aged 16 to 76 including a new mum with a three-week-old baby went forward amid hugely-supportive, noisy applause to receive certificates in health science, business administration and computing, employment skills, café service, health and fitness, massage, literacy and fashion and beauty.
The warm bonds between tutors and students, the pride and new-found confidence on students’ faces and the delight on tutors’ faces were a treat to see.
Kim Holland, Business and Humanities group manager, said many had made enormous sacrifices – family and financial – to complete their courses.
Some had travelled from Wairoa each day or got up at 6am to walk to classes – they were never late and never missed a day, one tutor said.
“Matariki is a time to reflect on the past . . . but the first day of the Maori New Year is also a time to look to the future and the new journey you will undertake,’’ te reo Maori tutor Joe Pihema told students as he wished them well at the close of the ceremony.