Chris Luke, Te reo Māori teacher at Coastal Taranaki School, talks about the Te Ika Unahi Nui initiative and the benefits this has had for Māori students. He comments on the value of structuring the programme so it can work for everybody, that it must be regular, and the whānau love it because they know what’s going on and are involved. Students share the benefits of practical experiences supported by learning with digital technologies.
From a school’s perspective it kind of ticks all the boxes. It ticks the boxes in terms of the government priority to learning in terms of Māori achievement, Māori succeeding as Māori. It ticks the boxes in terms of whānau engagement, and it ticks the boxes for me personally in terms of identity for our young Māori students. So this initiative here has been amazing for me because our mainstream schools are a lot different to our kura kaupapa schools. Our kura kaupapa kids, they already have that value of things Māori. They know who they are. It’s our mainstream schools where our kids don’t actually have that.
I like having the experiences, like going out Pouakai Hut and making the hīnaki and trying to catch the eels. We’re getting all the sand from the beach and filling the buckets with woodchips and mixing them up and putting the kūmara in there to help them grow. And also we’ve been doing like making fire, watching videos, learning how to make knots with ropes. Yeah, and I like doing the activities we do on the iPads and learning more about how to speak Māori, and going around the places finding out what the names are.
Māori succeeding as Māori to me is where you feel good about yourself, you feel good about who you are, you understand the world of your ancestors and you can take that knowledge that they have given to us and move forward into the future and help others as well.
At school when we do te reo we don’t have like all the whare and stuff to see, and when we’re here you can like go around and look, and be able to see the things. My mate said that it was really cool because they thought that we were just going up to the Pā having fun, but they didn’t really know that we were learning.
I believe it works, it’s just a matter of structuring it so it can work for everybody, and it’s got to be regular. It’s got to be regular because it’s got to be normalised, and it’s the marae, our kaumātua, our rangatira, our school, and our whānau. The whānau love it because they actually know what’s going on. For the future it would be absolutely wonderful if this initiative can continue so that the boys can continue to develop, make it bigger and somehow incorporate the strategies and the things that they’ve learnt here into the mainstream with everyone else as well. You know, this has been great. We’ve had a lot of whānau hui, you know we’ve had a lot of whānau hui. Sometimes we’ve just met and had pizza, but that’s about wanaungatanga, you know, and then we’ll set aside time in our hui to actually sit down and look at what we are doing next, where the kids are, and what’s actually expected of them. You know, we always look at statistics and data to led where we are going to go next, but yes we’ve got that, but the biggest thing for me is how do you measure the values? How do you measure that? You measure that by the wairua of the student, you know. That’s how you measure it. You know, whether that student’s confident in himself, proud of who they are.
(reciting a pātere)