Rau Aroha

Service to Kapa Haka

Te Rau Aroha (translated as ‘the leaf of love’) was the name given to the canteen truck that was gifted to the 28th Māori Battalion from children of the Native Schools of New Zealand. When the Māori community decided to send their men to war with a special gift, an appeal for funds went around the schools. The target was 850 pounds, about $1700 at the time. The response was magnificent. In just six months the Native Schools grew vegetables to sell and ran concerts and stalls; children also dug into their moneyboxes. The final total was 1000 pounds, $2000 at the time, which was a lot of money in those days.

 During World War II Te Rau Aroha was driven and looked after throughout the North African and Italian Campaigns by the legendary canteen keeper Charlie Bennett MBE. Charlie, a Pākehā serviceman, was affectionately known by the soldiers as "Charlie Y.M.", the Y.M. coming from the initials YMCA.

To the soldiers of the 28th Māori Battalion, Te Rau Aroha was more than a canteen. They had hastened to its assistance when it was in trouble on the desert; they had protected it, they had shown concern for its safety when it was overdue; they had sought it out in the night just to satisfy themselves that it was still there in the convoy. It had represented to them everything they held dear to home; and the inscription on the side, "presented to the Māori Battalion as a token of love by the Children of Native Schools of New Zealand" was written on the hearts of the brave men of the 28th Māori Battalion.

The name ‘Rau Aroha’, was given to Kate-Lynne (the second and final of our children to leave Cashmere Avenue School) by her late grandmother, Ani Kanara Potiki.  Nanny Ani, as we affectionately knew her, had intended this name for Kate-Lynne in recognition of her koroua (grandfathers), many of whom had fought in both World War I and World War II.

Rau Aroha, as represented in this taonga, is a special part of our whānau that we wish to entrust to Cashmere Avenue School and by extension, to its community.  Like Te Rau Aroha of the 28th Māori Battalion, it is an expression selfless service, humility and dedication – the virtues that our whānau has been so privileged to become accustomed to at this school.  We leave with heavy hearts but with happiness in the knowledge that what has been offered to us at Cashmere Avenue School, will be offered to many other whānau after we leave.

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me maunga teitei

Pursue that which is precious, and do not be deterred by anything less than a lofty mountain.

Sue Comans’ Service Award


Established 2011 

Sadly in October 2011 Sue Comans’ one of our admired, respected and loved members of the school community passed away. Sue’s association with Cashmere Avenue School began in 1998 when her eldest daughter Miriam started at the school. From day one Sue freely gave her time in whatever way should could to support the school. Whenever volunteers were called for Sue would inevitably be at the front of the queue.

Pöwhiri morning teas, newsletter collation, uniform management, staff morning teas and general office hand were all part of Sue’s daily life. If she didn’t know how to do something she soon learnt how.

For 3 years Sue joined the school staff as Office Administrator. In this role she was much admired and her qualities appreciated by the children, staff and parents of the school. If something needed to be done Sue would soon see that it got done and was key in ensuring all school events were appropriately supported. Dress-up days were a highlight and the office synchronised swimmers, complete with pegs, set the benchmark for the future.

Each day she would go beyond the call of duty in ensuring that everyone’s requirements no matter how big or small were catered for and typically done with a smile. Beyond the school Sue was very active in a number of areas. She was hugely supportive of the guiding movement and was at ease in mentoring numerous guides to aspire for excellence in leadership. She assumed the role of the Onslow Tar Babies Cycling Club Treasurer as nobody else would do it and Sue was the first to admit she hated figures!

If there were two words that best described Sue it would be, service and smile. Sue would often say “Life’s not fair some time but you just have to get on with it” and that’s exactly what she did.

In 2011 after working with the Comans’ family the Board and school have created the Sue Comans’ Service Award.

This award is presented each year to the pupil who best demonstrates the key value that came freely and naturally to Sue, service.