Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna on the East Coast are ensuring they abide by the Cancer Society's SunSmart Schools Programme (SSP) standards to educate students and keep them safe from the sun.
Laylin Habib, a student at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna, says, “We have to wear [broad-brimmed] hats to school because that's a rule our teachers made. We have to wear it to be able to play outside.”
Another student, Xavier Soloman, says, “To protect our bodies from the sun so our skin doesn't get burnt.”
Student Iwiata Nukunuku Pewahirangi says, “We wear sunscreen, [broad-brimmed] hats, glasses, so we don't get cancer.”
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna is the only Māori school on the East Coast with the SSP accreditation
Habib says, “The teachers are cautioning us so that we don't get too much sun and get burnt.”
Darryl Crawford is a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mangatuna. Crawford says, “We're at Rongokakao [Marine Reserve] today to learn how to dive and observe kina, pāua and koura, so they're using sunscreen.”
East Coast Cancer Society Health Promoter Roimata Mangu (Ngāti Porou) is travelling around the region to get schools on board with the SSP accreditation guide.
“[Students need] to wear the appropriate clothing to shelter the children from the sun, but teachers and parents need to set an example,” says Mangu.
She points out that it's not just any plain old hat but a broad-brimmed hat that meets the SunSmart standards.
By raising awareness around skin cancer, Māori may be educated more about the prevention of other types of cancer.
“The teachers should guide children to find shade under trees and other areas to play there, and rest there,” says Mangu.
“If we don't wear our hats we need to sit in the shade- to do the right thing,” says Soloman.
The Cancer Society is encouraging all schools to pursue the SunSmart Schools Programme accreditation.