Kanahooka High's native garden comes to life

Aboriginal community member Ivan Morris performs a smoking ceremony at the native garden opening. Pictures: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Aboriginal community member Ivan Morris performs a smoking ceremony at the native garden opening. Pictures: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

In celebration of NAIDOC week, an indigenous cleansing ceremony officially opened Kanahooka High School's native garden on Wednesday.

A small fire was the centrepiece of a smoking ceremony, traditionally performed at major events such as births and marriages.

But Kanahooka High students had their own creation to celebrate.

Planning started for their native garden in 2012 and Jocelyn Burns-Richardson, Aboriginal education officer at Kanahooka High, said "the creation on paper has come to life today".

Indigenous students set up the garden, which is home to both medicinal and edible plants.

Ben Rostron, Norta Norta teacher at Kanahooka High, said it was an educational tool for all students.

The opening involved the wider school community.

The opening involved the wider school community.

"They can increase their knowledge of native plants, because that knowledge is getting lost," he said.

Mr Rostron also said it helped keep indigenous culture strong.

"We have 90 indigenous students here and we are on Aboriginal land, we've still got to practise what our people have practised for thousands of years."

The garden and ceremony were a chance to share indigenous culture with the wider school community, Ms Burns-Richardson said.

"It's one of those opportunities to bring all students together, and understand what it is we are trying to teach the indigenous students."

There was also something to learn from the garden's design. Like other traditional indigenous art, the layout of the garden was symbolic.

Kanahooka High student Jessica Worthington was heavily involved with the creation.

"It tells the story of pathways in our lives and our future in education," she said.

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