Together We Climb
(From the Pirongia School Strategic Plan written in 2003)
Note: "Together We Climb" is the school motto.
There are many different routes to the summit of our mountain and none are easy. You may choose to climb by more gentle slopes, but then you must climb for longer. If you want to get there quickly you must climb on steeper slopes.
The way is never straight ahead nor straight up. There are many ups and downs and the path is often winding, obscure and filled with obstacles. The weather may change in a flash. A vicious hailstorm can strike literally "out of the blue," even in the middle of summer, when you least expect it. You will often climb a peak on Pirongia, only to see another higher ridge beyond, with higher peaks waiting to challenge you.
The path has been formed by those who have climbed before you. If ever it should become confused or overgrown, then it is important to think clearly, to have good strategies and to make good choices.
You may arrive at a steep rock face and think "How can I scale this terrifying obstacle?" Then you will notice that someone has left a chain embedded in the rock. You can take hold of this chain and pull yourself onto and up the rock face. So you notice how much you are being helped in your journey by those who have climbed there before. And you wonder, "What can I do to help those who come after me?"
It is not a journey you should take alone. But choose your companions carefully before you climb our mountain. You may come to depend upon them for your life. One of you must be the chosen leader but all of you should be prepared to take over the leader's role in case of mishap along the way. You must be absolutely certain that the people you are following will lead you by the best path. Make sure that you enjoy each other's company so you can have fun along the way. The more fun you have the further you will want to go.There will be hard times when one of you may feel tired or discouraged. One of you could even fall and be injured. Only by working together as a team will you be able to rest the tired, encourage the discouraged and bring help to the injured.
Before you can start to climb our mountain you must first cross our river. Not a difficult task these days, but look back and think of the times when crossing this river was not so easy. Strong people from Pirongia's past did not let any barrier prevent them from beginning to climb.
Pirongia demands respect and does not suffer fools. Only a fool approaches this mountain unprepared. So, besides travelling with a good team, you must plan your journey carefully and have good equipment - everything you may need to keep you well protected and well nourished along the way.
It is a big risk to climb our mountain. The consequences of choosing the wrong path can be severe. You could come to great harm. And yes, you can quite easily die up there. Many people who try to climb our mountain, fail on their first, second or third attempt. Don't be ashamed if this happens to you, just let it make you more determined.
When you reach the summit at last, you may find that you still cannot see what you went there to see. Look out the window and you can see why. The peaks are so often shrouded with mist, it is a lucky person who arrives there in good visibility. There is always another day. Just try again. . . and again . . . and again, if necessary. One day, all will be clear.
On the way to the summit you will be surrounded by an ancient forest that whispers of the Patupaiarehe (fairy people or "Children of the Mist") of te ao tawhito (the distant past,) in the stories handed down to us by the Tangata Whenua. Do you sometimes wonder if the Mist People are still there? Are the spirits of your ancestors watching over you as you climb? Are you climbing as they would expect you to climb and caring for this mountain they so proudly bequeathed to you?
And why do you want to reach the summit anyway? Because from there you can see other mountains to climb, directions to take, an ocean to cross, . . . . . and the journey goes on.
By Tui Allen
(Pirongia School Teacher)