Building upon a Mataura Primary School tradition, a new initiative unites pupils of all ages and gives them a sense of belonging.
House activity day was held at the school on Thursday when pupils dressed in house colours and participated in a variety of activities.
The activities helped build knowledge and understanding of science, technology, leadership and culture.
Principal Susan Dennison said the school had been grouping pupils into one of four houses for generations, but the activity day expanded upon that.
‘‘Houses are only really celebrated on athletics day and at assembly. We wanted to extend the whanaungatanga, the grouping of our kids across the school, so that they had more opportunities for the big kids to be with the little kids.’’
The day began with planned activities and challenges run by teachers, encouraging pupils to work both individually and in small groups.
Challenges included getting apples out of a bucket of water and knocking over as many cups as they could in one minute with a rubber band.
At lunchtime, house leaders, made up of senior school pupils, ran games for all pupils to participate in.
The day concluded with a Tapu ae tournament, a traditional Maori ball game, and points being awarded to the winning house.
‘‘What we saw was some of our big kids absolutely rise up and take on a really caring nature,’’ Ms Dennison said.
‘‘We knew they could do it, but we gave them the opportunity to practise what they’ve been learning over the years.
‘‘They really made a name for themselves.’’
It gave pupils of different ages the opportunity to form connections, she said.
‘‘Then in the playground or on other days in the library, they’ll have somebody that they’ll know pretty well because they’ve worked with them before and they’re part of their house group.’’
Having houses helped build a sense of belonging for the pupils.
They could say ‘‘this is the group that I identify with at school and these are my people’’.
Ms Dennison anticipated the school would be holding more house-based activities in the future.
‘‘I’ve got some very motivated and diligent staff who got this off the ground in the last few weeks, so they’ll continue building that sense of whanaungatanga.’’