Rangi Ruru Students Commissioned to Create Anti-Bullying Song
A group of Rangi Ruru Girls’ School students and their music teacher were commissioned by the Ministry of Education to create the official waiata anthem for Bullying-Free NZ Week, which will be used as a resource throughout New Zealand schools for years to come.
‘We Tumeke’ was completely written, composed and produced by a group of Rangi Ruru Girls’ School students and their commercial music teacher, Henare Kaa, and will be used throughout New Zealand schools to promote kindness and inclusivity for years to come.
Mr Kaa says the message behind the song stems from the whakatauki, “Ko au ko koe, ko koe ko au” (I am you and you are me), which is about promoting understanding and acceptance, and working together as one.
“We’re not perfect and that’s what makes it exciting about being human,” he says. “It’s easier and more exciting to learn from someone than it is to judge—so if we can promote that through music then I am all about it and I am all about the next generation trying to do the same.”
Year 13 student Holly Williams was involved in the project and says ‘We Tumeke’ is about promoting a message of kindness and unity.
“Sometimes people make comments and you don’t realise how much it affects someone else and it can really hurt people and you don’t realise until it’s too late. This song is about aroha and being kind to each other, that we are stronger together.”
Kaa, who is a member of Christchurch neo-soul pop band Dillastrate, says the brief for students was to create a Kiwi roots-style song that is catchy, and easy to sing along to for all ages.
Students worked together to come up with lyrics in Maori and English, and played a range of instruments including guitar, saxophone, drums, synth and keyboard to produce the final track. The track was fully recorded at the school, with students working after school and during the holidays to bring the project to life.
Year 13 student Aleshya Grant, who plays the saxophone for the track, says the song is about “bringing joy and creating an environment of positivity—we are all together and we will support each other”.
She says the process of creating the song itself brought students together.
“It’s been really nice seeing students come together from those who do contemporary music and those who do classical music and we’ve really come to mix together to make something which is honestly so cool. It’s been a really interesting process to see it develop.”
As well as being shared with schools throughout New Zealand, the song and an accompanying dance choreographed by Rangi Ruru dance students and teachers Chelsea Cope and Kirsty Bell have been used by the Ministry of Education to promote BFNZW on social media.
Bullying-Free NZ Week raises awareness of how to prevent bullying in schools and culminates in the Mental Health Foundation’s Pink Shirt Day. The week provides an opportunity for schools to highlight their everyday work and focus on bullying prevention with their whole school community.