Following the new government’s nationwide phone ban in schools, students around the country have kicked off the new year by having to actually speak to their classmates.
Instead of looking out at a sea of students pretending they're not messaging each other under the desks, teachers have noticed an uptake in origami skills as the teenagers are forced to return to the schoolyard entertainment options of yesteryear.
Upon my inquiring about the source of the noises, a teacher at a high school in central Auckland presented me with an ancient relic I remembered from my primary school days: a paper fortune teller.
Four coloured panels on the outside would open up and contain flaps, each with a number 1 through 4 written on them that, again, opened up to reveal a prediction about my future, à la a fortune cookie.
"Tim's older brother's boss knew a guy who made one once in the 90s," a 15-year-old student said. "He suggested we try it cos we were bored AF, and now everyone knows each other's favourite colour and future career."
Although the banning of cellular devices doesn’t become law until term 2, many schools have decided to give it a run from day do. Students seem to have adapted quickly.
"It has been hard not sharing TikToks with my classmates," one year nine student admitted. "We've basically been forced to start drawing the good ones frame-by-frame and passing them to each other."
"My mates and I created this really cool game," another told me. "Basically, you fold a piece of paper into a triangle. Then, your friend forms their fingers into a rugby goal post and you flick the piece of paper between their fingers."
"I've written 'YES' and 'NO' on either side of my eraser," a third said. "It's helped me so much. 'Should I have a pie for lunch?'- eraser flip! 'Should I talk to my crush?' - eraser flip! How has no one else thought of this?"
With a whole year of school left, one has to wonder how long the kids will actually like these activities until they move on to the next one.