In July 2011, a group of more than 40 maori students visited Dartmouth and gave performances in the Royal Avenue Gardens, Dartmouth. The tour was organised by former Exeter teacher, John Brandon, who is Deputy Head at Aukland's James Cook High School. This was the third visit of the group who formed a link with Dartmouth Academy when yours truly was Acting Principal. I well remember the formal performance of the "hukka" on their first visit which made a very powerful impression on me. These people live from the heart and form very deep relationships. This was very apparent to me when I was their guest for two weeks in 2008.
The Dartmouth Town Day was organised by Yvonne Cottam (part time member of Yurts for Life). As usual the Devon summer weather was at its worst, exactly the same as for their two previous visits (what do they expect if they visit in July?). Yurts for Life were delighted to provide a changing yurt for the performers who wear traditional costumes which would suit a summer heatwave (or an average day in the South Pacific) and bare feet. Fortunately we put in a wood-burning stove which gave them a chance to thaw out between performances. In spite of the rain, the group were enjoyed by enthusiastic crowds and gave a stunning show including traditional song and dance, poi, weapons training and cultural ceremony. They are world class performers and winners of many contests in New Zealand. The James Cook Maori Unit is a special part of the school whose students have opted to preserve the Maori language, culture, artistic and sporting traditions. We look forward to their next visit. Kia Ora.