The hum of kids laughing and chatting fills the school hall and echo off the wooden floors. Awkwardly standing by the door alone I begin to edge towards them. I recognise one kid from my class, the rest are complete strangers. I just want to leave. A big lady emerges from the back room with her hands on her hips and a smile on her face.

“Alright kids. Let’s get this show on the road! Line up.” I follow the other kids and they get into formation. “Pokarekare on three. Tahi, rua, toru” The kids burst into song.

I look around dumbfounded. How do they know all the words? This is supposed to be the first class. The next few songs went on much the same, some even had actions or a dance that all of the kids seemed to know. I was distressed. I knew I stood out.

“Girl, come over here,” the big lady is pointing straight at me and all the kids’ eyes follow. As I walk up I hear whispers. Look at her, what’s up with her posh clothes? Have you heard her speak, she sounds funny as. Does she think she’s cool? She’s not like us. I knew in that moment I wasn’t coming back.

“You know you gotta sing right, that’s the whole point”

“I don’t know the words” I hear kids sniggering behind me.

“Your old school not sing these songs?” I shake my head in response, “Ah well, you’ll pick it up easy as,” she smiles and pats me on the back. As I make my way back to the kids the whispers get louder.

“Why are you wearing that?”

“You sound posh.”

“How come you don’t know this stuff, it’s easy.”

I turn from them and run out the door. Once outside I make my way over to the monkey bars. I grip the bars and just hang there a while, swinging back and forth until my hands start to hurt. I see the kids pour out of the hall so make my way over to the school gate to wait for Mum. One by one the other kids go until it’s only me left. Mum comes speeding around the corner in her white fairlady, winds down the window.

“Come on kiddo, let’s get out of here” I hop in and we speed off.

“How was it?”

“I didn’t like it mum, the other kids are mean. I don’t want to go back.”

“Well that’s just tough, it’s good for you”