Night of culture promotes unity

Published 6:00am 10 December 2023

Night of culture promotes unity
Words by Moreton Daily

A special celebration of Redcliffe State High School’s rich cultural tapestry has broadened horizons, promoted unity and cultural appreciation and contributed to a more inclusive society.

Principal Kerri Holzwart says in an increasingly globalised world, acknowledging cultural diversity has never been more important.

“At Redcliffe State High School, we recognise the growing need for celebrating both the differences and commonalities that are found within our community,” Ms Holzwart says.

“Holding an event like ‘A Night of Culture’ is significant in promoting tolerance, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of unity.”

Challenge accepted!

Night of culture promotes unity

Ms Holzwart says the concept for A Night of Culture came from the student body.

“When students approached me and asked if they could join another school for their cultural event, I responded with a challenge.

“Why go to another school with a small group when they could organise one in their own school that everyone can take part in?

“The school hall was the perfect venue for our nine cultural groups to perform, with the large stage, extensive audio-visual equipment and the seating to accommodate our community.

Sell-out event

Night of culture promotes unity

“The evening attracted huge numbers, selling out the 500 available tickets within days.”

PASIFIKA and First Nations teachers Aides Cecelia Ngere and Anita Hogan, along with teacher Felicity Ameron took on the roles of co-ordinators, helped by staff, students, parents and community members.

Students attended rehearsals before and after school and during lunch breaks, costumes were made at home and many hours spent ensuring the timing, scripts and music worked perfectly.

Two of the school’s captains - Marnie Major and Demetrius Nabong - were instrumental in rallying student support and were also the emcees for the evening.

The evening opened with First Nations people and an Acknowledgment of Country and a traditional welcome dance, followed by performances by students, staff and community members from Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Tonga, Latin America, New Zealand Māori, Cook Island and India (Bollywood).

Show of support

Night of culture promotes unity

“Many of our staff and students joined performance groups outside of their own country to support students in showcasing the beauty of their culture,” Ms Holzwart says.

“The final result was a rich and diverse representation of our community, showcasing their exciting cultures, traditions and talents, with deep pride and joy and staff and students are already planning for an even bigger and better Night of Culture in 2024.”

Marnie Major says she was honoured to represent her culture as a First Nations Leader.

“I loved how inclusive the school was with all cultures, and how staff members were willing to help, from staying late after school or giving up their lunch breaks for practices.

“The cultural night as a whole was so awesome and I had so much fun being a part of it.”

See the gallery

Year 12 student Nicholas Parata says he was awed to be part of the experience.

“I came out feeling prouder of my culture and being able to represent my whanau (family) and tipuna (ancestors) in front of my school peers. It showed the love we all have as Māori in Australia.”

Teacher Rhian Henderson says it was heartwarming to see students learn more about their own culture and also learn about each other’s.

“I am so lucky to have worked closely with the Filipino and PNG Group,” she says.

“My nanay (mother) and tita (aunty) were teary-eyed while watching dances from their childhood being represented on stage.”

Unity and love

Parents were also impressed, with one performer’s family saying the experience was “spine tingling and emotional”.

“The unity of love, respect and harmony was really breathtaking to feel among all students and staff.

“In a world of trials and tribulations, it was a monumental success and so spectacular to witness.”

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