School mo’ willing thanks to Liliana
Tamatea High School head girl Liliana Rio has been a champion for her tungãne (brothers) in her role as Board of Trustees student representative. Like many schools around the country Tamatea High School had a rule that boys needed to be clean shaven. The boys questioned the rule and Liliana took their concerns to the Board of Trustees. Liliana put the case that the boys should be able to have tidy facial hair as an expression of their individuality and because facial hair has no impact on learning. Many students supported this position and the board decided to canvass the opinions of school staff, whãnui and the wha¯nau whãnui (alumni). Some opposed facial hair saying students need to be clean shaven for their jobs. The board considered this and decided few workplaces actually require people to be clean shaven. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, police and tradies can all wear beards. There was a concern that students would look untidy and be unhygienic. Some felt that clean shaven looks more professional and shows discipline and self-respect. A few staff worried that our community would look down on the school if our students were not clean shaven. Many in our community were supportive of a change — recognising students should be able to make decisions about their own bodies. Religious and cultural reasons for having facial hair were raised as good reasons for changing the rule. There are no rules for hair colour or piercings and there are a handful of students who have dyed their hair and have more than usual piercings, but the vast majority have not altered their appearance. Having tidy facial hair was deemed in line with the approach for hair and piercings. Ultimately the board considered the consultation input and decided that the cleanshaven rule was outdated. Therefore, trimmed and tidy facial hair will be permitted at the High School from now on. Principal Robin Fabish said he was very happy head girl Liliana had led the kaupapa on behalf of the students and the board had consulted with the community to make a good decision supporting students’ right to express themselves.