Napier Girls’ High School has recently incorporated the lavalava into its official uniform, a concept that has been in development for three years. The inspiration for this addition arose when students observed that other New Zealand schools had already integrated it into their dress code. They decided to approach Principal Dawn Ackroyd and the Pasifika student advisor, Nikol Stirland, to seek support in pursuing this inclusion.

The LavaLava

The navy blue lavalava, a collaborative effort, features the traditional hibiscus flower on one side and the school crest on the other. Over the course of three years, the design underwent several revisions, ensuring that it was suitable for female students to move comfortably around the school premises on Napier Hill. Attention was given to the placement and height of pockets to enhance the overall student experience.

In Polynesian culture, the lavalava is traditionally worn as a symbol of modesty. The artwork on the garment was skillfully crafted by a former student, Ruby Taite, and it was Lia Eneliko, the current Vaine Toa prefect, who diligently saw the project through to its completion.

The LavaLava becomes popular at the school

Eneliko expressed her delight in having the lavalava as a part of the uniform, noting that all the girls are pleased with its availability, and even non-Pasifika students are embracing it. She emphasised how it significantly boosts the girls’ confidence.

Principal Ackroyd shares in the enthusiasm, having finally made this option available to students. She hopes that it will foster a greater sense of belonging and connection to the school, recognizing that when students feel a strong connection to their educational institution, it positively impacts their well-being and overall achievements in various aspects of their education.