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Carterton School gets buzz cuts for charity

A group of “awesome tamariki”, some gutsy teachers, and a local radio personality took to the stage last Friday – braving the shave to help give young Kiwis some extra quality of life.

Carterton School hosted a sponsored head shave at its morning assembly – with proceeds going towards Camp Quality New Zealand, a non-profit organisation which runs annual camps for children diagnosed with cancer.

Year 7 and 8 pupils Monica Hooper, Ryan McNeilage, Daisy Roberts and Harvey Williams, senior syndicate teacher JP Delamere, and principal Matt Jackett all took part – having their locks chopped and buzzed by a team of hairdressers, as the student body watched on in awe.

Their efforts were met with wild applause and enthusiastic chants from the school community – and, at the end, pupils acknowledged their peers with a moving rendition of the haka “Ko Wairarapa”.

Also throwing his hat [or hair] in the ring was MoreFM Wairarapa presenter Brent Gare, who had told the pupils the day before he’d be joining them in the hairdresser’s chair.

“I’m about to get much cooler. Well, in the temperature sense!” Gare quipped.

Carterton School had been receiving donations towards the head shave via Givealittle – and, as of Friday afternoon, the page had raised $1,930.

The school contributed further donations by holding a charity “wacky hair day”: With kids showing up with everything from shocking pink mullet wigs, to rainbow streaks, to headpieces made from coke bottles, instant noodle cups and Christmas decorations.

Jackett said the event made for “an emotional and exciting day” – though he confessed to some slight jitters before facing the razor.

“I was a bit nervous – it felt like my wedding day all over again!” he said.

“But, when you’re thinking about why you’re doing it, it’s an easy decision to go through with.

“I’m hugely proud of my students – they’re so inspirational. They know they’re doing this for kids who have it much tougher than we do.

“They’re showing leadership – they’re modelling to our junior pupils how important it is to think about and care for others in the community.”

The students were similarly thrilled with their mahi and, though the shave was a nerve-wracking experience for some, satisfied with their new buzz cuts.

“I love it – it feels so nice!” 12-year-old Daisy enthused.

Jackett also acknowledged what a big step shaving their heads was for the girls, considering how pivotal hair can be to girls’ and women’s self-esteem.

“It means they’re re-defining what it means to be young women,” he said.

“It shows they’re strong enough in themselves to look past the superficial features we’re told define us. And that shows their whānau are raising some amazing kids.”

Also present at the event were Camp Quality volunteers Linda Knowsley and Paul Shailor, who thanked the tamariki and staff profusely for their support.

Knowsley said Camp Quality aims to provide children with a fun and stress-free environment in the midst of their cancer journey – giving them a sense of normality and allowing them “just to be regular kids”.

“Because of their treatment, kids miss out on a lot of things people their age get to do – like going on a school camp,” she said.

“At Camp Quality, they get to be in a safe and caring environment and do things they wouldn’t normally have the confidence to try. Plus, they meet others who are going through the same thing.

“The kids love it – a lot of them come back as volunteers once they turn 18.”

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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