An innovative new education programme targeted at supporting young women with a better knowledge, improved awareness, and a willingness to explore sustainable product choices for their period was recently piloted at Kuranui College.
Joanna Hehir and Lisa Birrell created Divine River, a not-for-profit organisation, focused on educational programmes and student-led workshops that provide the knowledge required to make informed choices, whilst creating an awareness of the sustainable options that are available to young women.
Joanna Hehir, founder of reusable period product company Danu Natural, had developed sustainable period products based on a need she had seen through her own daughter and friends. Joanna got in touch with Kuranui’s Principal, Simon Fuller, to see if there was anything she could do about helping the girls feel more comfortable in school, which she hoped would encourage them to use reusable pads.
Teaming up with Lisa Birrell, they worked with the school to develop and facilitate a 10-week Period Project pilot programme, developed through a student-led steering group made up of eight girls, including workshops on the body, nutrition, and health and well-being.
The Divine River Team
There were also talks from guest speakers such as Olie Body from the WA Collective and Megan Savage from Fine Tune, and experts who gave their time included Bex Henderson, a fertility expert from Seed Fertility who presented the Menstruation workshop, and Emilie Fleur-Neubauer, a scientist from The Wairarapa Earth School who presented the Sustainability & Environmental impact workshops, and Joanna herself who presented the Fabric & Ethics workshop.
The students were given an opportunity to test out the sustainable products, to find out whether they were fit for purpose, comfortable and if they felt confident wearing them at school.
“It was important to make the school environment accepting and supportive of the students’ choices. One of our key aims for the students was to normalise discussions on the topic across all genders,” explained Hehir.
Kuranui Year 9 student and steering group member, Nilah Savage, has become much more empowered to talk about her period following the success of the programme. “I thought I knew quite a bit when I started the programme, but once we had done the first workshop I realised I really didn’t know anything,” Savage said.
“Health in Year 7 and 8 wasn’t that good. It was all about relationships and we did nothing on our periods. Everything I learnt was from my mum, but I still didn’t know about how much we bled and what was actually happening inside my body.
“The biggest learning point for me was getting the confidence to talk about it, make it normal for me and the people I surround myself with, so now I can talk to all my guy friends about it and be completely fine with it. I have the confidence in saying I have my period.”
When the group opened up a sustainability workshop to the wider school community, they were delighted to see that 20% of their audience was male. They also held a red mufti day to purchase reusable products for students who may not be able to afford them, which helped to break down the barriers around talking about blood.
“In the next five years we would like to see every girl starting her period choosing the sustainable option, by having a reusable product first on her mind and in her school bag,” added Hehir.
On average a woman will have 480 periods during her lifetime, this contributes to more than 90 tonnes of disposable feminine hygiene products that are added to landfills every year in New Zealand alone, taking up to 450 years to decompose.
Kuranui College celebrated the many successes of its senior students and also said farewell to the graduating Year 13s on Friday.
Students, whānau, staff, and special guests, who included mayors Mr Alex Beijen and Mr Greg Lang, Mr Kieran McAnulty Member of Parliament, and guest speaker, former Kuranui student and Wellington Free Ambulance Wairarapa Manager, Jake Carlson.
Guest speaker former Kuranui Student and Wellington Free Ambulance Wairarapa Manager Jake Carlson
“2019 has been a roller-coaster ride of opportunity, achievement, teaching and learning, and success in all areas,” explained Principal Simon Fuller during his speech to a packed auditorium.
“We started 2019 by celebrating our awesome NCEA results, with our 2018 Year 13 students achieving the highest results ever. We welcomed over 120 Year 9 students, which was the largest intake for a number of years, in fact this growth in roll has allowed us to appoint nine new staff members during this year.
“These results and growth have reinforced that we are one of the best performing schools in the country.
“Our mission statement is to ‘nurture, inspire and prepare each individual to take their place in a changing world’. In everything we do, our aim is to fulfil this mission. Tonight, you will see each individual from our 2019 graduating class about to take their first step into this ‘changing world’,” said Fuller.
Kuranui Dux Caelum Greaves and Proxime Accessit Samuel Hunter
Caelum Greaves was awarded Dux for 2019 after achieving NCEA Level 3 last year while still in Year 12 and obtaining an NCEA Scholarship for English. This year he has been studying scholarships in Chemistry and Biology, and an outstanding scholarship for English.
He is heading to Otago University next year. “I am studying a bachelor of Arts and Science, aiming for an honors degree in Science Communication. I am majoring in my passions of Ecology, and English and Linguistics,” said Greaves.
“My aim for a career afterwards is to enter the field of science communication, where I will likely have to create my own job in an emerging sector in what is a rapidly-changing world.”
Samuel Hunter was awarded Proxime Accessit and is studying a Bachelor of Engineering at University of Canterbury. With a whole raft of fields to specialise in, including robotics, city design, waterways, forestry, civil, and rocketry, Hunter will spend his first year deciding on which field to focus on.
Next year’s head students are Amelia O’Connell and Henry Isaacs and deputies are Joji Dell, Isla Alexander, Connor Turton and Dylen Kingi.
Keiran McAnulty presentsYear 13 and current Head Boy Michael Hyman with his awards
Kuranui actors and musicians put on a series of stunning performances at the Wairarapa A&P Show, held last weekend at the Clareville Showgrounds.
This is the second year that the junior and senior performers have provided entertainment for the public at the show. The students leapt at a chance to strut their stuff in front of the community, with the weekend was filled with a diverse range of performances, from Wairarapa’s Got Talent’s winner Meg Hunter performing her prizewinning solo, to Kuranui’s Jazz band Kikorangi, or the performing arts students performing their dramatic skits.
Supporting the community through events such as this is a big part of what Kuranui College strives to do, and the musicians were also pleased with the added publicity from the event. “It was cool for people to be able to hear our stuff and dive into it, a lot of the students especially enjoyed it which I think is great,” said the lead singer and bassist in Kuranui’s rock band Absolutely Knott, Corban Van Manen.
Their band played five songs, with a mixture of classics such as ‘You’re My Best Friend’ by Queen, to many of their own songs, such as ‘Janine’, and ‘Castle in the Clouds’. “The heat was definitely difficult to perform in, but it was well worth it to see all of the support, especially from the Kuranui students,” added Van Manen.
The college’s student leaders helped out in all areas of the event, from collecting tickets, helping with the show jumping, or assisting with the many games and activities at the show.
“We really enjoy being part of the Wairarapa A&P Show. It certainly provides a great opportunity for the Wairarapa community to engage with our students and in return, a chance for the students to give back to the community,” said Kuranui Principal Simon Fuller.
Last term, Kuranui year 9 and 10 students represented both the College and Wairarapa in the Torpedo 7 Get2Go Junior Challenge.
Run by Hillary Outdoors, the annual event series involves 12 challenges held in regions around the country, spanning as far north as Whangarei and down to Dunedin. “It’s an inter-school event where schools enter teams of eight, usually with four boys and four girls in a team,” explained Kuranui Outdoor Education teacher Joshua Hutchings.
“They compete against other schools in speed rock-climbing, kayaking, orienteering and mountain-biking over the day.”
This year, Kuranui entered two teams in the regional event in Wellington, one from each of the Get2Go courses held in Semester One, as part of the innovative IGNITE curriculum.
The Curriculum is designed to increase engagement through offering a greater variety of opportunities for students to learn in, increase achievement through students learning in contexts they are interested and passionate about and develop transferable skills such, criticial thinking, problem solving, self managment, team work so students can succeed in life.
Outdoor Education has been broken into courses with different focuses, from a dedicated Get2Go course, to courses which focus on team sports and building leadership in the outdoors. “Bringing students together for exciting, team-based adventure challenges, Get2Go is all about getting students into the outdoors,” said Hutchings.
“The course we run at school is modelled on the Get2Go event, so students learn about the four outdoor pursuits of rock climbing, mountain-biking, kayaking and orienteering, and have a chance to develop skills in all these activities. At the end of the course, we select a team from the class to compete in the competition.”