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Pink Shirt Day: Northland schools teach virtues, respect in bid for more kindness

Pink Shirt Day is a fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation.

Pāmapūria School, south of Kaitaia, celebrated Pink Shirt Day on Thursday. Photo / Supplied

Pink tutus, pink hats and even pink cakes – schools and workplaces are celebrating diversity and kindness today as New Zealand launches its 13th annual Pink Shirt Day to stop bullying among schoolmates, peers and colleagues.

Celebrated since 2009 in Aotearoa, Pink Shirt Day marks a global event in commitment to creating communities that value people of all walks of life without discrimination, isolation and animosity.

For Pāmapūria School south of Kaitaia, Pink Shirt Day is about celebrating respectfulness rather than talking about bullying.

Being respectful is a kaupapa that is important for both the tamariki as well as the adults at Pāmapūria School, principal Cheryl Bamber said.

"Our three school values are respect for myself; respect for others; and respect for the environment."

The environment doesn't just mean the outdoors but everything that surrounds the children and staff, including their classrooms and school equipment.

"Pink Shirt Day is about reminding ourselves to be respectful – and we all need reminding," Bamber said – however, it's something that tamariki and kaimahi (staff) discuss often and not just once a year.

Teachers talk to children about what gestures show respect and also how one can accept and appreciate a respectful gesture.

Pāmapūria School also takes part in Mana Potential, an assessment and intervention tool to support people to understand and regulate their emotions and behaviours, using Atua Māori.

The tamariki learn how to uphold their mana and the mana of their whānau by taking a positive approach to potential conflicts and challenges.

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Pāmapūria School, which has a roll of about 70 plus staff, already plunged into pink yesterday, marking Pink Shirt Day in pink mufti attire and with pink banana cake.

Matarau School, northwest of Kamo, also geared up in pink on Thursday, raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation with freshly baked goods from parents.

Teacher aide Lisa Ryan said the core message of the day was that bullying is not okay.

Kids learned about what exactly bullying is - a student nicking a pen isn't necessarily a bully - and what kids can do if they find themselves on the receiving end.

"The older the children get the more important is it to learn how to help others," Ryan said.

The students are taught to get adults involved or how to safely divert confrontational situations in the schoolyard.

Ryan said it was an open dialect and the school talked about various virtues, including kindness and humility, throughout the school year.

Matarau School also has a wellness team for kids who might need mental health support.

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