Show Day at our rural school. On the day it all looks so easy. Runs like clockwork. Classrooms full of creativity. The central courtyard transformed into the ag day performance and judging arena. The traditional barbecue with both tomato sauce AND mustard. Wonderful home baking. The silent auction of spectacularly decorated cakes and the finale – the bucket raffle. Most of all of course it’s the people and the privileged insight into the living, ticking heart of these hills – Whakamarama School.
I’ve been to other Show Days, so I know to eat a very small breakfast before the 10am start of this busy school day. I’m early enough to get a park beside the Whakamarama Hall which hosts the weekly Farmers Market.
The thing about Ag Day/Calf Club/Show Day is that the animals that have often had hours and hours of care attention and practice showered on them may not be too impressed to be doing their thing in public. Today there is only one attempted escape and minor participatory refusals. Lambs have to be led around. Lambs have to be called – that means they have to walk the little course unattended – not always successful. What do rural children learn from all of this: organisation, persistence, caring and the ability to deal with “failure” – ie a lamb having a public display of uncontrolled behaviour. Great training for a managerial role or a profession.
Not every child at a rural school on an urban fringe in New Zealand will be part of a traditional agricultural family. Here on the lower slopes of our Whakamarama District there is increasing horticulture: not so much kiwifruit now but avocado and wonderful newcomers such as truffles. So some children bring along their hens, ducks, cats, guinea pigs …. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lamb or Matilda the Rat they’re learning by looking after them.
The classrooms surrounding the courtyard are literally crammed with creativity. My photos only give you a glimpse of what has been achieved by the School and the children. Looking at the depth of talent and thought always makes me think we need a “junior” liaison and promotion sector of Creative Bay of Plenty. Take a look…
“Judging” the creativity is one of the hardest jobs my friend and I have. The theme this year was “creativity” and there was bucket loads. Some of the work, all of which was done at school, gives no indication of the very young age of its maker. Some of the work was so thoughtful, careful and beautifully executed we kept checking it had actually been done at school and done by a child – always “yes”. The judging is done like a major art exhibition – the names are not turned over until after we have made our decisions. There are some outstandingly talented young people in this School.
An important part of this day is of course the food! The baking is sublime and I consume a genuine, old-fashioned apple slice and (when you weren’t looking) a slice of real ginger crunch for morning tea. My lunch is the traditional sausage in bread (someone is trying to ban it as a fundraiser, I don’t think they’re going to succeed).
And if there is any doubt about the creativity of the community take a look at the cakes in the “silent auction”I daren’t enter the auction – if I won I’d eat the cake (all of it)
The grand finale to the morning is the bucket raffle. Simple plastic buckets are filled with themed products. Families donate a bucket of goodies and there is also one from the Whakamarama Farmers Market! The buckets contain “something for everyone” and at $5. a ticket they are a prize indeed. This year the draw is in the Library. The year I was in the crowded classroom for the drawing of the raffle the tension literally could be cut with a knife. This year, I stay outside sitting on one of the covered seats lining the courtyard.This is an important day in the life of the School and the blue-shirted man is our Local MP. I had another amazing morning, art and creativity filled morning out. I got the same feeling of joy and delight from the children’s work, meeting them and their parents as I did from attending the recent Fringe Festival. And like that wonderful event I know nothing happens by accident and without significant planning and hard work by the staff, the parents and the children. So my final image is of the School Principal and Community Leader Natasha Greatorex. Thank you.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
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