Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

First haircut in 12 years makes a man

Deniliquin's Lliam Williams took part in what is considered one of the most important day’s in a Niuean boy’s life on Saturday.

July 11, 2014 3:12am

Janice and Hawea Jackson watch on as Lucy Cleary cuts a lock of Lliam William's hair on behalf of St Michael’s School.

Twelve year-old Lliam Williams had his first haircut on Saturday.

It may seem unusual to most people around here, but for the men of Niue Island, in the South Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand, it’s an age-old custom that marks the journey from boy to man.

In fact, it’s a tradition so important to his people that many of Lliam’s family members from Niue Island, Auckland and the Cook Islands travelled all the way to Deniliquin to witness the cultural ceremony which is considered one of the most important day’s in a Niuean boy’s life.

Lliam, who lives with his grandparents Hawea and Janice Jackson, moved to Deniliquin in November 2012 from Niue Island.

‘‘The tradition is for boys to grow their hair until they are 12 and then have the ceremony,’’ Mrs Jackson said.

‘‘Now there’ll be a lot less arguing in the morning about brushing his hair and trying to get the knots out!’’

Reverend Jackson, who is the Uniting Church Resource Minister based in Deniliquin, officiated the ceremony at the Deniliquin RSL Club Dunlop Room in front of 70 family and friends.

With all eyes on Lliam, who was seated in the centre of the room and surrounded by traditional, colourful tapestries, people were asked to get up and cut a lock of his hair until the last three locks remained for his family to cut.

The two-hour ceremony, which saw people attend from St Michael’s School, Deniliquin Drovers Rugby Club and regional church groups, culminated in an afternoon feast and entertainment.

Lliam was also presented with gifts to mark the milestone including a ukulele and a money necklace strung with New Zealand dollars.

Lucy Cleary, representing St Michael’s School, which Lliam attends, said they are ‘‘impressed with the beautiful young person that he is.’’

~ Cass Savellis

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