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‘A very special time’

With Easter just around the corner, Angela Yeoman sat down with a group of Hadlow School pupils, who, together with their Chaplain, shared their insights on the meaning behind the holiday – as well as their thoughts on prayer, God, and chocolate eggs.

Reverend Mannie Marara, the chaplain at Hadlow Preparatory School said, “Easter is a hard topic to teach because someone dies, but the focus is on that person coming back to life. Christianity as a religion only exists because of the Easter story.”

Midweek sat down with students from Hadlow, one of the Anglican Trinity family of schools in Wairarapa, to talk about what Easter means to them. Han, Coby, Lucy, Aisling, Isaac and Rev Mannie all shared their insights.

The pupils reflect a range of ethnicities and come from different towns across Wairarapa. Rev Mannie was born in Zimbabwe, worked in the UK for a time, and then came to New Zealand with his Kiwi wife.

“Easter is a special time,” Lucy [Year 5] said. “Jesus, who is really God, came to earth in the form of a man. He died for us and so our sins were forgiven.”

“God had only one son. On earth, he was in human shape,” Han [Year 4] agreed.

Coby [Year 5] said, “Two thousand years ago, people were doing bad things and so God came down to show people what is right. He sacrificed his only son, who was crucified on the cross, to save people from their bad things.”

He thought a while and then said, “We don’t have punishments like the cross in New Zealand today. But we do have taxes.”

“People were sinning and doing bad things,” Aisling [Year 7] added. “We are so grateful to Jesus for dying on the cross for us.” She said she envisages God as a flame of light who “hears us”.

Isaac [Year 8] said he envisages God as a pair of hands, for many reasons: “God’s hands created the world. When we pray, we put our hands together. We also stretch out our arms and our hands to help people in need.”

Aisling and Isaac both talked about being close to God and the use of prayer.

“I pray if I’m worried or if someone else needs help,” Aisling said.

“We can be closer to God, because now we don’t need a priest to mediate between us and God,” Isaac says. “We can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.”

All the pupils talk about how Easter is also a special family time.

Lucy and Coby both said that Easter is also a time to remember any family members who have died. Han talked excitedly about how Easter is a time when he gets to see family from all over New Zealand and even from Malaysia. Over Easter, Isaac enjoys reading the Bible and doing devotions with his Grandma.

The giving and receiving of chocolate eggs at Easter also came up.

“Eggs have an ancient meaning,” Rev Mannie said. “They were given and received long before chocolate became popular.”

“They represent new life and the miracle of Jesus,” Coby said. “He rose again and gave us all new life.”

“And the hollow chocolate eggs represent the empty tomb once Jesus rose,” Lucy added.

Isaac volunteered that, “God gave us the ability to have our sins forgiven, which is sweet like chocolate.”

Rev Mannie spoke about the emphasis in Christianity on free will.

“We are promised grace when we make mistakes – and Easter is the biggest reminder of that grace – but we must ask for it. There is the need for action on our part.”

He said concept of service was important: “If we serve, we remind people they are all worthy.”

Rev Mannie encourages all the students at Hadlow to reflect Christian values through their lived experience and how they treat others. “We are all important and we are all loved. Jesus stressed that point the night before he died. We respect everyone and all other religions.”


  1. I wonder if Hadlow also educate the children to know that Easter is said to come from Ēostre, the pagan goddess of fertility that people worshipped well before Christianity took over dominance. Where people had the feminine as the symbol of regrowth in springtime.

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Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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