A Powerful Pōwhiri in Pictures

I need pictures to say the thousand words I wish I could use  to describe the incredible week I’ve just experienced.  

During my time in New Zealand, (click here for a recent article on my Fulbright research and the subsequent exchange) working with indigenous Māori people allowed me the opportunity to witness first hand the profoundly positive impact that placing culture and heritage first in education has on eliminating the racial predictability of student academic achievement. I came back from my Fulbright experience a changed human.  The trip  inspired me to find my roots and ancestry through embracing the land, sea, and where I come from.  Although my students couldn’t go to New Zealand this year, this exchange to Oak Park allowed my students to witness a new culture and ignite curiosities that will inspire them explore to US and the world in the future.

Through a serendipitous encounter in Rotorua, New Zealand (blog post to come),  I had the great privilege to collaborate with Raewyn Tipene, the amazing CEO of the Te Kāpehu Whetū school in Whangarei, New Zealand, and together we worked on a cultural exchange between our two schools.   It was meant to be, as the world renowned Field Museum has one of three marae, or Māori meeting houses, outside of New Zealand.  The marae comes from the iwi (tribe) in Tokomaru Bay, and some of the students from the New Zealand school have ancestors from there.

In order to welcome them appropriately, we completed a pōwhiri , or a traditional welcome ceremony.   And I can’t explain how much it touched me to bring 80 students and have them feel how I felt a year ago this week when I went through my own first pōwhiri .   Because I can’t even attempt to adequately explain it,  I’m using these pictures (best ones are towards the end!), taken by the amazing Fredy Peralta through APJ Photography.  I hope they can speak the words I cannot write.  Enjoy!

Picture of the marae

Photo credit:  APJ Photography
The marae (or the meeting house) is ready for the ceremony.

Picture of the marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The beautiful marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography The Marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The Marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography The marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The marae

Photo credit: APJ Photography The Field Museum's Mary Ann Bloom does the welcome call for our guests to enter.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The Field Museum’s Mary Ann Bloom does the karanga, or call for our manuhiri tūārangi, guests from afar to enter.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Te Kāpehu Whetū enters the space while we all stand.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Te Kāpehu Whetū enters the space while we all stand.

APJ_7666

Photo credit: APJ Photography

 

Photo credit: APJ Photography A whaikōrero, or speech from Ray DeThorne, Chief Marketing Officer of The Field Museum

Photo credit: APJ Photography
A whaikōrero, or speech from Ray DeThorne, Chief Marketing Officer of The Field Museum

Photo credit: APJ Photography The OPRF choir responds with a waiata, or song

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The OPRF choir responds with a waiata, or song

Photo credit: APJ Photography Joe Podlasek, LCO-Ojibwe/Polish, speaks his welcome words on behalf of the First People of the United States, and explains the importance of the Eagle staff he presented

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Joe Podlasek, LCO-Ojibwe/Polish, speaks his welcome words on behalf of the First People of the United States, and explains the importance of the Eagle staff he presents.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The First People respond with drums and a beautiful jingle dancer.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The First People respond with drums and a beautiful jingle dancer.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The drums and song

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The drums and song

Photo credit: APJ Photography Jingle dancing

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Jingle dancing

Photo credit: APJ Photography Our OPRF superintendent Steven Isoye and one of my senior students give a welcome speech.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Our OPRF superintendent Steven Isoye and one of my senior students give a welcome speech on behalf of Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Photo credit: APJ Photography All of my students sing a song in te reo Māori, "Te Aroha"

Photo credit: APJ Photography
All of my students sing a song in te reo Māori, “Te Aroha”

Photo credit: APJ Photography A student from Te Kāpehu Whetū speaks

Photo credit: APJ Photography
A student from Te Kāpehu Whetū speaks.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Te Kāpehu Whetū sings their first waiata

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Te Kāpehu Whetū sing their first waiata.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The amazing Ralph speaks

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The amazing Ralph speaks.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Another waita from the kura, or school

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Another waita from the kura, or school.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Marianne Craven, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, flew in from D.C. to represent the US State Department, and broke the way for the women to speak.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Marianne Craven, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, flew in from D.C. to represent the US State Department, and broke the way for the women to speak.  She spoke about the importance of global exchanges and building cross-cultural community.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Ms. Craven said some of the nicest words I've ever heard about me in her speech, and for those words I am so grateful.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Ms. Craven also spoke some of the nicest words about my Fulbright research in her speech, and for those words I am so grateful.  This experience is in many ways what a Fulbright is all about.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Te Kāpehu Whetū presents koha, or gifts.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Te Kāpehu Whetū presents koha, or gifts.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The gifts included a plaque that says, "Kia Kaha" or "stay strong."

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The gifts included a plaque that says, “Kia Kaha” or “stay strong.”

Photo credit: APJ Photography ...which was presented to Ms. Craven from the State Department

Photo credit: APJ Photography
…which was presented to Ms. Craven from the State Department.

Photo credit: APJ Photography And then this All Blacks Balloon to me

Photo credit: APJ Photography
And then this All Blacks balloon to me (a stand in for a later koha)

Photo credit: APJ Photography The kura gives a haka, or a traditional war chant that can express deep gratitude.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The kura gives a haka, or a traditional war chant that can express deep gratitude.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The haka

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The haka

Photo credit: APJ Photography The manuhiri, or guests, are invited to cross over and do the hongi, or the pressing of noses.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The manuhiri, or guests, are invited to cross over and do hongi, or the pressing of noses.

Photo credit: APJ Photography The hongi

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The hongi

Photo credit: APJ Photography The OPRF school board president doing the hongi

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The OPRF school board president 

Photo credit: APJ Photography The CEO of Te Kāpehu Whetū with the Superintendent of Oak Park and River Forest High School doing the hongi

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The CEO of Te Kāpehu Whetū with the Superintendent of Oak Park and River Forest High School hongi.

Photo credit: APJ Photography All 80 of my students got to go through this special part of the ceremony. The energy in the room was inspiring and beautiful as young people from 8,000 miles come together.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
All 80 of my students got to go through this special part of the ceremony. The energy in the room was inspiring and beautiful as young people from 8,000 miles come together to share breaths.

Photo credit: APJ Photography One of my senior students and Ralph

Photo credit: APJ Photography
One of my senior students and Ralph

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography There was so much aroha, or love, in the room.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
There was so much aroha, or love, in the room.

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Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography Members from the Maori community who live in Chicago were also invited to this ceremony.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Members from the Māori community who live in Chicago were also invited to this ceremony.

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography After the hongi. kisses, and hugs, we all remove our shoes and enter the marae for karakia, or incantations or prayers for spiritual guidance.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
After the hongi, kisses, and hugs, we all remove our shoes and enter the marae for karakia, or incantations or prayers for spiritual guidance.

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography Paying respects to the ancestors who are represented in the carvings.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Paying respects to the ancestors who are represented in the carvings.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Karakia

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography Students start to meet their host families

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Students start to meet their host families

Photo credit: APJ Photography Students begin to form bonds that will last lifetimes.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Students begin to form bonds that will last lifetimes.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Students mingle with our principal, Nate Rouse

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Students mingle with our principal, Nate Rouse

Illinois State Representative Camille Lilly attended on behalf of the State of Illinois. Senator Durbin also sent two representatives from his office.

Illinois State Representative Camille Lilly attended on behalf of the great state of Illinois. Senator Durbin also sent two representatives from his office.

Photo credit: APJ Photography Te Kāpehu Whetū and our First People

Photo credit: APJ Photography
Te Kāpehu Whetū and our First People

Photo credit: APJ Photography The ceremony officially ends with kai, or food. After breaking bread together, the students go to explore the world renowned Field Museum.

Photo credit: APJ Photography
The ceremony officially ends with kai, or food. After breaking bread together, the students go to explore the world renowned Field Museum.

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography

Photo credit: APJ Photography All of the students together in front of Sue!

Photo credit: APJ Photography
All of the students together in front of Sue!

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