The weeklong celebrations to mark the centennial anniversary of Tuatea school culminated with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on Saturday, a day of speeches, feasting and celebrations held at Tuatea grounds. Former member of parliament for the village Michael Jackson thanked the Hakupu community in New Zealand who helped fund the two commemorative plaques unveiled on the day.
Former students, teachers and generations of Hakupu people who attended Tuatea school donned their iconic Tuatea pink to celebrate together the momentous occasion.
Tuatea school was first established in 1920 providing for the education needs of the children from the village until 1988 when the government decided that due to the declining student populations all the village primary schools were to be centralised to Alofi.
Tuatea is a focal point for all Hakupu community events, because after the school closed it became the community hall and centre for all the village activities, family milestone events such as hair cutting and ear-piercing ceremonies and a place of gathering for sports and show days.
There were many many speakers on the day including Tuatea Primary School’s last principal is Mrs Makelina Folau. She spoke of her time at Tuatea as a student when she showed the crowd her prize of a charcoal iron, her prize for class six (Dux for the girls) and her male counterpart Lavili Taulilo who won a prize of an axe. The crowd cheered as Mrs Folau recalled her achievement as a student and her time as the last principal of the school.
One of the last students to study at Tuatea was Shanta Viviani Hekau who was just five years old in 1988. Shanta spoke of Tuatea school being her backyard, her play yard because she lived with her grandparents Harry and Evi Jackson next door to the school. Shanta recalls the oral health tablets that they had to take and how oral health was a big thing for them in those days, they even had to brush their teeth before going home. Shanta also remembers one of the school activities of her time there was to burn limestone rocks to make the white paint with the late Punapa Veseaga Eric.
In 1991 Tuatea became the Tuatea Theological college with the village Pastor Reverend Pahetogia Faitala as its Head of School. One of the first students from the College is Reverend Basinet Viviani who spoke of the significance of Tuatea as the “Vailahi ke ua aki” second Bible college in Niue that cultivated many an aspiring preacher who went to pursue further studies in NZ. These pastors of the Ekalesia Niue have served or continue to work in Niue and abroad.
Tuatea Theological college was open for five years and the teachers included some pastors who have passed on including the late Reverend Fellow Pahetogia, the late Reverend Iosefa Sionetuato, the late Reverend Afele Paea, Reverend Liva Tukutama, Reverend Konetiki Makani and Reverend Esa Faitala.
Olu Siohane spoke of his time as a student of Tuatea for seven years and after training as a teacher he returned as a teacher. Mr Siohane taught at Tuatea until he was transferred to Halamahaga and then to Niue High School where he taught for many years.
Mrs Sabina Fakanaiki is also a former student and teacher of Tuatea who went to teach many generations of Niueans for four decades.
The final day of the weeklong celebrations was yesterday at the church where the village came together singing hymns, marking the 100 years of Tuatea school.