Hato Hohepa perform powerful 'Poi' at Vatican

By Taroi Black

Hato Hohepa retrace their sisters' journey to Europe after 150 years since the Māori girls boarding school was established. It was also the school's first time to make a special visit to the Vatican. 

Principal Dame Georgina Kingi says they've been planning this trip for almost a year with the aim of honouring the school's Catholic Faith by performing 'Poi' in front of a live audience which included the Pope and other members of the Vatican at St Peters Basilica. 

"This was also an opportunity to reconnect with our sisters of Our Lady of the Missions", she said.  

30 students are part of this 3 week trip which started in Florence and will commence in London. 

"Florence was a beautiful start to our hikoi. Connecting with the whakapapa of 12 century 13 century 14 century Italy. Girls best place so far!"

"The interaction with the Spanish and French people particularly the visit to Lourdes Visit to NZ house - meeting up with past students and the Ranana whānau and meeting up with Sir Jerry & Lady Mataparae Finally the shopping in Europe is great!"

The group also toured the grave sites in Cassino, paying their respects to the 456 New Zealand servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated at Cassino War Cemetery.