by NZ CATHOLIC staff
The recent presentation and blessing of a korowai cloak, commissioned by
Marian College’s whanau committee, has reaffirmed the central role that tikanga Māori plays at the school.
As a taonga, the korowai recognises Maori achievement, said principal Anna
“It is designed to be worn by Māori students or people receiving awards for significant achievement in te reo Māori, tikanga Māori or bicultural involvement,” she said.
Made by Jared and Melanie Riwai-Couch, the cloak incorporates Mercy (Catherine
McAuley) and Josephite (Mary MacKillop) crosses embroidered by Barbara Te
Miha to reflect the central role of those two charisms in the spiritual life of Marian College.
The college’s committee chairman, Chris Rewha, said the korowai was named Te
Koropiko (the fern frond), referring to the stage of development of the school’s young women and the potential that they all have. “It also refers to the notion of service and humility that is symbolised by the bowing posture of the fern frond,” he said.
The whakatauki (proverb) for the korowai is Ma nga huruhuru, Ka rere te manu, which translates as, “the bird’s feathers enable the bird to fly”, and references the five layers of feathers in the cloak, representing each Marian student’s journey through the year levels.
“The first layer of feathers is brown,” Mr Rewha said, “signifying the Australian outback and Marian’s links to the Josephite charism.
“Green feathers evoke images of both Ireland and the West Coast, places that
are meaningful to the Mercy story in Christchurch.
“Motley feathers pay homage to our Canterbury Plains, and the white feathers
reflect both the Southern Alps and unblemished youth.
“The red and blue feathers echo Marian’s school colours.”
As part of the presentation, the college’s kapa haka group sang a waiata that
was composed and written by parent and whanau committee member Wira Viliamu, with help from college students.
Senior Māori student Maia Rewha, in liaison with the principal, is the kaitiaki (caretaker) of the korowai and also had the honour of wearing the cloak during its presentation to the college.