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Rural school campers take notes from leaders

Kieran McAnulty speaking to rural Masterton pupils from Parliament using Zoom. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Story by Tom Taylor

Pupils from three rural Masterton schools banded together at Riversdale Beach last week to hone their leadership skills.

Eleven pupils from Opaki School, 10 from Wainuioru School, and six from Whareama School attended a Rural Leadership Camp at Waimanaaki from Tuesday to Thursday.

Whareama School principal Darren Kerr said that pupils showed amazing growth in their leadership skills over the three days.

The pupils participated in a Zoom conference with Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty speaking from Parliament. McAnulty talked about his role, how he got to where he was today, and the skills he said leaders should have.

One lesson from McAnulty that Kerr wanted to impart to his pupils was the MP’s respect for others.

“He said that every day he goes to work, he always says hi to everyone, whether it’s the cleaner or the door person, Cabinet leaders or Jacinda [Ardern].”

Pupils asked McAnulty about the attributes that had led to him becoming a Member of Parliament.

McAnulty said that he had used his strengths to build up his weaknesses and had sought guidance from colleagues who were strong in their fields.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson also attended the camp in-person to speak about her experiences as a leader.

Pupils from each of the schools stood up to present their unique set of values.

For Whareama, that meant being a RURAL school: Respectful, Unique, Resourceful, Achievers, and Leaders.

“What was continuously coming out in those values – and in the speeches of Kieran [McAnulty] and Lyn [Patterson] – was being respectful, building relationships and rapport, and building your team – making sure that as a leader, you’re trying to raise that weakest link within your team.”

The camp was not all presentations and meetings – pupils also took part in a modern-day scavenger hunt, using mobile app GooseChase to find clues, locate objects, and take selfies of the objects with their groups.

Kerr said that in former times there had been a camp for all Masterton district schools. He said last week’s camp could signal a revival of that trend.

He said a contribution of more than $3000 from Trust House had made the camp possible.

“We’ll do it for our rural kids this year and next year probably but then we might look to extend it further afield and get it back up and running for all schools… It’s something we’d love to see continue every year.”

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