Students from three schools were presented with a UNESCO Living Heritage award at the National Digital Forum in Wellington this week. The three schools were Paparore School from the Far North, Tiniroto School near Gisborne and Waitakere College in Auckland. The awards recognised the students’ creative contribution to the preservation of New Zealand’s history and culture.
Living Heritage is an online bilingual (English-Maori) initiative that enables New Zealand schools to develop content for and publish websites about a heritage treasure in their community. Living Heritage preserves history and culture in a digital format for every generation to enjoy, and allows young people to share their view of New Zealand on the Internet.
An independent judging panel evaluated sites published since the last UNESCO Living Heritage Awards in 2009 (a total of 53) and selected the three winning schools. The Paparore and Tiniroto sites were originally published in 2010, but the schools were able to find a member of the original team to bring to Wellington for the Awards. Pace Lewis came from Tiniroto School; he was a Year 3 student when he helped create their site ‘Through the Looking Glass’; he is now in Year 8 and his flight to Wellington was the first time he had been in an aeroplane.
The Waitakere College site was published by a Year 10 class in 2014. Two students came to Wellington to collect the award – Bronte Watkin and Aswinan Vimalathas, both now in Year 11. Deputy Principal, Shona Smith, who accompanied the students and assisted with the creation of the Living Heritage site said the hardest choice to make was to select just two students to come to Wellington. She explained that their site ‘A College of Many Cultures’ was a real team effort by the whole Year 10 class.
Paparore School Principal, John Windleborn, brought a team of five from the Far North to receive their award for ‘Nga Poupou’. John and his team came for the weekend and made the most of visiting the War Memorial Exhibitions and Parliament. He mentioned that a highlight of his visit was sitting in the debating chamber at Parliament listening to Question Time.
The purpose of the UNESCO Living Heritage Awards is to celebrate the achievements of schools successfully working with digital media in areas that contribute to UNESCO’s objective of promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication. Ian McKinnon, Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, and Barbara Craig, 2020 Trustee, presented the Awards that included a plaque of recognition, a citation and a cheque for $1,000.