Teachers from Pegasus Bay School discuss how introducing waiata, students learning their pepeha and rakau games has created an inclusive environment where tikanga Māori is celebrated and valued.
Gina Keating: So we get our rakau ready first. Toru, wha. E pāpā waiari, taku nei mahi taku nei mahi, he tuku roimata ē auē… I think there’s been a sense of whanaungatanga within the classroom, that sense that it’s okay to be who you are regardless of your culture. It’s not only been a spinoff about Māori culture and supporting tamariki who are Māori, but all the tamariki feeling this is the space and it’s great to be who you are.
Vicki McKenzie: So, I think for our Māori students, they can contribute especially through way of pepeha. It makes the other tamariki realise, well, they are really connected to a place and an iwi, and that’s given them a bit more mana, I think, in our learning community and it’s also really inclusive so the other tamariki who come from other places see that connection, as well, with those tamariki in our learning community.
Student: Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Aine Elliot: By introducing those games and the different circle times, it’s raised the mana that the Māori language has. When I first arrived, there was definitely more of a consideration that Māori was something that’s standalone and something that maybe wasn’t as accepted, whereas now everyone is using different words and you can hear a lot more phrases so it’s a lot more normal and it acknowledges that Māori is one of the languages of New Zealand, it’s just part of what we are.
Vicki McKenzie: We actively try and include whānau in what we’re doing, so, especially around pepeha and mihi. We send home all the forms to complete and we’ve had people coming and asking us questions. They might say, “I don’t have a maunga or an awa or how can I do that?” So, we can look at ways of making everybody feel inclusive. We’ve had a lot of feedback from whānau saying that their tamariki are coming home and singing waiata, and they’re using kiwaha what we use, and they just love the whole using parts of our environment like the korari sticks and the harakeke in our learning community. We’ve had a workshop with some parents doing some harakeke weaving leading up to matariki. So, we try really hard to include whānau with what we’re doing and they’re really supportive.