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A man holding a coconut over a bowl outside
Ōtāhuhu College celebrated their Pasifika community by hosting traditional Tongan and Samoan umus and hāngī on school grounds. Many of the students and staff at Ōtāhuhu College have a proud connection to their Pasifika roots and enjoy honouring their culture through food, music, art, dance, performance, and representing their school at the annual Polyfest Festival. 
 

"Many of our students have grown up in New Zealand so it's important that they feel connected to their Pasifika roots,” said Meta Usufono, Samoan Language Teacher at Ōtāhuhu College.

The event was a special occasion for the school community, following a long period of being unable to celebrate their heritage together, due to COVID-19 restrictions. 
  
An umu is a traditional method of cooking used throughout the Pacific Islands. The practice uses burning timber to heat up rocks, which are then either rolled into a cooking pit in the ground or stacked up above ground. The food is wrapped up in foil or banana leaves, placed on the rocks, covered with wet sheets and wet sacks, and left to cook. The water from the cloth produces steam, which cooks the food to perfection. 
 
Bunnings provided support for the event with hands-on help, product donations, and food contributions for the umu and hāngī. Bunnings Team Members from Bunnings Manukau spent the day with school students and staff, helping and learning about the umu and hāngī.  
 
"It was a privilege to be involved and the team thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the ceremony,” said Luke Foxley, Bunnings Area Manager. “Many of our team are familiar with umu and hāngī and were pleased to celebrate their culture, while other team benefited from learning through the experience. 
 
“We’re grateful to Ōtāhuhu College for involving us in their event and we look forward to revisiting the school for future opportunities to work together,” Luke said.
 
"The students were proud to share their culture with other students and the Bunnings team,” Meta Usufono said. “It was wonderful to see it take place in the garden that some of the students had built themselves. It was a special occasion for all involved.”