The Story behind the DVD and Album: 'The Last Song of the Kokako'
The Story Behind the Last Kokako
I'd like to briefly share with you the story behind the 'Last Song of the Kokako' DVD and Album, and acknowledge all those who helped make it such a success.
"The Last Song of the Kokako" came out of the Water Journey workshops, begun in 2008-2009, with Koro Mike O'Donnell at Waikino School, when this local, NZ Potter, artist, poet and musician worked within the school as artist in residence.
Since then, the school has enjoyed an ongoing and warm relationship with Koro Mike and we invited him back this year, 2014 as part of the school's strategic goals for this year, to re-seed the Water Journey with the children currently attending Waikino School. Only a handful of students from 2008-2009 were left in the school, and now (2014) Year 6 leaders, these children were 5 years old at that time. While they carried the knowledge and wisdom from that time, it became clear that it was time to re-connect and re-seed with the Water Journey with all the students-which has become a deeply embedded foundation of our school: a reflection of who we are, spoken to in our Karakia, Pepeha and Mihi, sung to in our waiata and school haka, represented in our school vision, and in our school values.
Alongside Mike, a new friend of the school was made in the internationally renowned Maori performance artist, Jerome Kavanagh, who also work shopped in the school in Term 2 for 3 days, as part of our Kaitiakitanga (stewardship, guardians, nurturers) Integrated Curriculum focus for learning. The instruments and music created and learnt by the children at this time, were recorded for the album during his visit, an album which Waikino School has produced within our own community-using the talents and skills that we have to create something uniquely Waikino. Thanks to Al Sorley (Sunsonics, BOT Chair, Parent) and Matt Sephton (Coro Sonic Lab) who recorded, mixed and laid down the tracks, and to Daimon Schwalger (The Nomad) who mastered the album, we were able to release this album for sale to the public on 12 December 2014 at our final assembly. The music and sound effects created with the children during this workshop, were recorded and are not only used within the upcoming album, but also became the core sound effects and music used within our school production "The Last Song of the Kokako" in Term 3. This production was filmed by Martin Humphreys and a sound recording was made and later added to the film during the editing process by Al Sorley and Matt Sephton.
"The Last Song of the Kokako" is inspired by the story of Waikino's own Kokako, which used to reside in the Coromandel before it became extinct in this area, no longer to be seen or heard in this area again. The greatest tragedy of losing this majestic song bird for our people is that old recordings made during the late 80's and early 90's have shown that our Kokako had it's own unique voice and dialect. In short, the Coromandel, Waikino Kokako, which could be heard in these parts up until the end of the last century (late 1980's), had it's own language which sadly will never be heard again. This is a story which while haunting, is an important reminder for us today, of the importance in looking after and protecting what little Native forest and ecologies we have left in the Coromandel. The production was written by the children at Waikino School so that we could share this story with our community, taking the message of the Manu, our birds out into the wider community; to story to be retold and recounted for many years to come.
In Term 1 of 2015, our students will take their music, performance and album with them to the Sundaise Festival, held in Dickey Flat on the 6-8 of March. Waikino School has been given the honour of opening the festival and performing on the main stage to a local and wider national and international audience.