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A school in New Zealand performed a powerful haka to commemorate their teacher who suddenly passed away

Mr Dawson Tahana Tamatea, 55, taught at the Palmerston North Boy's High School

CNN  — 

It may be difficult to know how to express gratitude for a teacher we hold dear, but one school in New Zealand managed to find a befitting way to commemorate their tutor at his funeral.

Dawson Tahana Tamatea, 55, a teacher at Palmerston North Boy’s High School in the North Island, passed away in his sleep, according to reports, on July 20. He leaves behind his wife and three children, and a vast number of doting pupils. The school posted a video to YouTube and to their Facebook page of the funeral service at the school where the boys performed a haka, a traditional Maori war dance.

As their teacher’s hearse arrives onto the school grounds, the footage begins with silence, broken by fervent chanting, stamping feet and beating chests – the customary gestures of the dance. The crowd of hundreds of students then separate, creating space for the hearse to pass through, as silence falls again.

An online guest book has gathered a heartwarming collection of tributes. “Thanks for the memories Mr Tamatea you made me enjoy classes you taught you made them fun. My ears still hurting from 3rd form. RIP Tamas,” wrote Wayne Mcleod, of Torquay, Victoria, Australia.

“My thoughts go out to the family of Mr Tamatea. I had Mr T as a form teacher and P.E. teacher back in the early 2000’s and he had such a friendly and engaging manner you couldn’t help but like him. He will leave a big hole in the Palmy Boys community,” wrote James Hart, of Ohope, Bay of Plenty.

“This was a very emotional and powerful performance,” said the school on their Facebook page. “We are extremely proud of our boys’ performance and we know that Mr Tamatea would be too!”