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Giving a blessing .. Matu Coleman Clarke, of Mataura, blesses totem poles designed by the pupils and families at Tuturau School. PHOTO: JENNY DILLNER

Totem poles depicting the history of the families at Tuturau School were blessed on Monday.

After months of designing, drawing and painting the four totem poles, they were securely placed in the ground.

Past pupil Matu Coleman-Clarke, of Whakotohea, Ngati Porou and Te Arawa descent, was invited to bless the poles.

He said he left the country school 14 years ago and it was his first time back.

“It was a privilege to be asked to perform the karakia.

“Since leaving school I have wanted to return to all of the ones I attended, and this was my last one I wanted and needed to reconnect with.

“It is a special moment.”

Principal Rebekah Prattley said pupils and their families had worked on the poles.

Seeing the finished product securely concreted into the school grounds was cause for celebration.

“It has been wonderful to see the families engaging and participating in their children’s learning,” she said.

up after school and working well into the night to get the poles completed.”

The school is one of the oldest in Southland, opening in 1870, and Ms Prattley said she hoped the poles would stand as long as the school did.

“Another 50 years would be great.”