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Ōtara Manākitanga Fun Festival gives students a reprieve from Covid disruptions

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

It’s a beautiful day in Manukau as kids take time off school to have some fun in the sun at the annual Ōtara Fun Festival. 

Due to COVID-19 interruptions, Principal and event organiser Banapa Avatea was excited to finally put the event on.

“Today’s kaupapa is based on Manākitanga, which is of course ensuring that our children are having fun, encouraging each other, supporting each other, and generally just enjoying being out,” he says.

Among that joy is also a sense of relief for many, as the return from Covid has played a huge part in the adversity schools have had to face.

“It’s very important because the site where we are today, the Manukau Velodrome, at one time was a testing station,” Banapa says.

Principal and event organiser Banapa Avatea was excited to finally put the event on.

Now being utilised as a Covid-free space, Banapa has ensured there’s a little bit of fun for everyone.

Banapa points out the mass of activities available for the students, “we’ve got 10 stations here today, we’ve got S Double S bike program here, we’ve got basketball, badminton, we’ve got circability, which is teaching our children to run away and be a part of the circus. 

“Behind me we have the Warriors taking our kids through some coaching sessions, and we’ve probably got the world’s biggest obstacle course as well – inflatable at that.” 

Also giving back to his community is rugby league legend Ruben Wiki, who was an ex-pupil of some of the local schools involved.

Wiki says “it’s good to give back to the future leaders of tomorrow. Two years in the making with all the mandates and so forth [so now we] can actually interact with the kids and pass on some of our knowledge.” 

Also around to pass on their knowledge was CLM Community Sport who were involved with supporting the wellbeing of the tamariki through sport and healthy eating.

Healthy learning community connector Sione Sione says, “I guess being one of the biggest hit areas for Covid…it’s given a chance for these kids to slowly work their way back into some sort of normality.”

Healthy Active Learning Advisor, Jason Husband says it’s worth the wait.

“If you look around today, all of these like smiling faces, which is what it’s all about so the more we can kinda’ activate these kinds of spaces, empower our local areas, our local people, the better off we are.” 

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