Each year since 2008 we have been hosting a group of students from Earlham College during January. Earlham College is a tertiary institute in Richmond Indiana which is informed by a tradition of Quaker values.
The students are here for a semester in environmental and cultural studies. Until 2011 they spent 3 weeks in Whanganui, primarily at the Settlement and most of their time in Christchurch under Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha/Canterbury University. After the earthquake in Christchurch in 2011 they relocated to Whanganui and since then the whole programme has run in Whanganui.
After an orientation to the Settlement the students set off to walk the Waikaremoana track.
On their return they did some preparation for their cultural immersion on the Whanganui river, learning about the formal pōwhiri process and readying themselves with action songs and pronunciation practice for greetings. They also undertook a two day Treaty of Waitangi Workshop, as well as starting some of their formal lectures and field trips.
Students taking a tour of the Settlement
Setting off for the river trip
Singing at the pōwhiri at Whakahoro
Looking out from Tamatea’s cave
Linking up waka on the second day for “the good, the bad and the ugly”.
Due to the warm weather and the low flow a lot of time was spent in the water
At Tīeke marae the students were given the honour of learning and performing a haka pōwhiri to welcome visitors. Seven languages were spoken during the process (4 on our side and 3 on theirs). The the six overseas visitors who took part stayed for dinner with us and took part in our whakamoemiti circle in the evening.
The Whanganui River: time for reflection