Nurturing future Maori leaders

Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri celebrates 50 years next week and a large part of the school’s identity is its total immersion Maori unit and bilingual status. As well as the 50th jubilee, the school is proud to celebrate 30 years of its Te Whanau Reo Maori unit. Long-serving staff and former students share their memories with Gisborne Herald reporter Shaan Te Kani.

Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri celebrates 50 years next week and a large part of the school’s identity is its total immersion Maori unit and bilingual status. As well as the 50th jubilee, the school is proud to celebrate 30 years of its Te Whanau Reo Maori unit. Long-serving staff and former students share their memories with Gisborne Herald reporter Shaan Te Kani.

CLASS OF 1991: Te Whanau Reo Maori’s 1991 intake happily pose for a class photo in the Waikirikiri School library. Focused on raising Maori achievement, the school’s Te Whanau Reo Maori celebrates 30 years in 2017. Waikirkiri School itself will celebrate 50 years next week. Picture supplied
KAPA HAKA:
The first piupiu for Te Whanau Reo Maori were made by Nanny Mihi Tibble and Nanny Atareta McMillan, with the guidance of Polly Whaitiri and support from one of the parents, Kui Keelan.

DEEP in the heart of Kaiti is a kura that has a proud history of culture, whakapapa, Maori education and whanau community spirit.

Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri will celebrate its 50th jubilee next week. Within those 50 years is another special milestone —30 years since its total immersion Maori unit, Te Whanau Reo Maori, was established.

The Maori unit as well as the school’s bilingual status make up a huge part of the school’s identity. Situated in Kaiti and with a 99 percent Maori population, the school has a large focus on Maori education and achievement.

Hana McFarland was the foundation teacher of Te Whanau Reo Maori and was joined a year later by Karin Mahuika.

Koka Karin recalls the establishment of Te Whanau Reo Maori.

“When the first Te Kohanga Reo graduates were ready to go to school, particularly from TKR o Te Poho o Rawiri and TKR o Te Whakaruruhau, the whanau of those kohanga reo looked for a school that would be willing to start a total immersion unit — so their graduates could continue their education in te reo Maori,” said koka Karin.

The principal of Waikirikiri in 1987 was Don Sinclair, who agreed to establish Te Whanau Reo Maori at the kura.

“Don firmly believed that education in te reo Maori would provide a valid and positive alternative education pathway for Maori students.”

The whanau wished for their tamariki to be immersed in the teachings and dialect of Ngati Porou, said Karin.

The kohanga reo had started learning Peta Awatere’s patere (or traditional chant) “Te Papatipu o Horouta”, so this was adopted as a curriculum framework for Ngati Poroutanga at the kura.

“Dr Rangimarie Rose Pere, was a Maori adviser for the then Hawke’s Bay Education Board, and had developed Te Wheke — a framework for the holistic development of the child from a matauranga Maori perspective. This also underpinned teaching and learning in Te Whanau Reo Maori,” said Karin.

Few te reo resources

In those early days there were very few resources in te reo Maori, so the teachers had to develop their own.

This included translating English readers, making big books to support Te Papatipu o Horouta and accessing — and learning — the language required to teach across all areas of the curriculum.

Te Whanau Reo Maori was very fortunate to have the input of the late Dr Apirana Mahuika, who wrote the Ngati Porou stories to support the learning around Te Papatipu o Horouta.

The other main kaupapa to support Te Papatipu o Horouta were annual haerenga (journeys) visiting the places mentioned in the patere.

These week-long haerenga involved parents and whanau, and had a focus on whanau-learning.

“Te Whanau Reo Maori is fortunate to have had many Ngati Porou pakeke (elders) give freely of their knowledge and time to these haerenga as well as to the kura.

“Sadly most of those pakeke are no longer with us,” said koka Karin.

“Papa Nick Pewhairangi was the first Te Whanau Reo Maori pakeke and came on many haerenga.

“There were also our kaiarahi reo — Ministry of Education-funded language assistants — who brought with them a depth of knowledge in te reo and tikanga.

“These were Maiangi Maru, Toti Tuhaka, Mate Wynyard, Tamati Reid and Pani Pewhairangi.

“When Nanny Pani retired, her place was taken by one of our Te Whanau Reo Maori graduates, Tahea-Rose Gibson.

“Now this position is held by another graduate of Maori medium education, Te Aowera Kupenga.

“There was nanny Ethel McPherson who, when she retired after 40 years of mainstream teaching, became the te reo Maori resource assistant and developed Maori teaching resources across the curriculum.”

Rawinia Puia-Gordon was one of the first students of Te Whanau Reo Maori, and has come full circle as she is now a kaiako and has also had her own children attend the unit.

When Rawinia was six, her family moved back to Gisborne from Wellington.

At that time there was no total immersion option in Gisborne city. As a child who had come from kohanga reo, she found it difficult in a mainstream setting.

“My parents heard the talk of the bilingual unit at Waikirikiri, which was 32km from where we were situated in Mangatu.

“Mum and dad attended a whanau hui at the kura and without hesitation they quickly enrolled me. That was the beginning of our whanau relationship with Waikirikiri.

“I would leave Mangatu at 6.45am with my mum, who would come into town to work. I would be dropped off at my koro Ruka Brown’s house, where I would have breakfast then walk to school.

“After school I would walk back to my koro and wait for my mum to finish work.

“My schooling at Waikirikiri was priceless. I was finally at a kura that put my culture and whakapapa at the forefront of my education.

“I felt culturally connected to what I was learning in all curriculum areas and had a sense of pride in being Ngati Porou.

“The relationship we had with our teachers was special. We had nothing but the utmost respect for them.

“They were rich in knowledge, cultural practices and curriculum content, which shaped us to be well-rounded and confident Maori.

“We always had a sense that we had an obligation to Maoridom, and that the knowledge was not for us alone — it was for us to share and pass on later in life.

Connecting Maori learners

“Two teachers particularly inspired me to take up primary teaching. Hana McFarland and Karin Mahuika demonstrated to me how to connect to Maori learners, and how to motivate and inspire Maori tamariki to be proud of their heritage and culture.

“Now as a teacher in Te Whanau Reo Maori, I strive every day to give back to this kura that gave so much to me as a student.

“My daughters are also confident learners due to their time here.”

Acting principal Lisa Olsen-Brown says the kura always endeavours to continue this proud legacy.

“Whanau are the driving force behind the kura.

“Koka Karin spoke of a time when nannies and papa were in the classrooms sharing their stories and skills with tamariki. The school worked alongside them to help meet their aspirations for their tamariki, mokopuna.

“This is an area we continue to work hard on, getting our whanau involved in an authentic way, as they certainly have been in the past.

“Everything we do at our kura is focused on raising Maori achievement.

“We aim to offer our learners the opportunities and experiences that they may not otherwise be afforded. It’s about nurturing and growing our future Maori leaders.”

DEEP in the heart of Kaiti is a kura that has a proud history of culture, whakapapa, Maori education and whanau community spirit.

Te Kura Reo Rua o Waikirikiri will celebrate its 50th jubilee next week. Within those 50 years is another special milestone —30 years since its total immersion Maori unit, Te Whanau Reo Maori, was established.

The Maori unit as well as the school’s bilingual status make up a huge part of the school’s identity. Situated in Kaiti and with a 99 percent Maori population, the school has a large focus on Maori education and achievement.

Hana McFarland was the foundation teacher of Te Whanau Reo Maori and was joined a year later by Karin Mahuika.

Koka Karin recalls the establishment of Te Whanau Reo Maori.

“When the first Te Kohanga Reo graduates were ready to go to school, particularly from TKR o Te Poho o Rawiri and TKR o Te Whakaruruhau, the whanau of those kohanga reo looked for a school that would be willing to start a total immersion unit — so their graduates could continue their education in te reo Maori,” said koka Karin.

The principal of Waikirikiri in 1987 was Don Sinclair, who agreed to establish Te Whanau Reo Maori at the kura.

“Don firmly believed that education in te reo Maori would provide a valid and positive alternative education pathway for Maori students.”

The whanau wished for their tamariki to be immersed in the teachings and dialect of Ngati Porou, said Karin.

The kohanga reo had started learning Peta Awatere’s patere (or traditional chant) “Te Papatipu o Horouta”, so this was adopted as a curriculum framework for Ngati Poroutanga at the kura.

“Dr Rangimarie Rose Pere, was a Maori adviser for the then Hawke’s Bay Education Board, and had developed Te Wheke — a framework for the holistic development of the child from a matauranga Maori perspective. This also underpinned teaching and learning in Te Whanau Reo Maori,” said Karin.

Few te reo resources

In those early days there were very few resources in te reo Maori, so the teachers had to develop their own.

This included translating English readers, making big books to support Te Papatipu o Horouta and accessing — and learning — the language required to teach across all areas of the curriculum.

Te Whanau Reo Maori was very fortunate to have the input of the late Dr Apirana Mahuika, who wrote the Ngati Porou stories to support the learning around Te Papatipu o Horouta.

The other main kaupapa to support Te Papatipu o Horouta were annual haerenga (journeys) visiting the places mentioned in the patere.

These week-long haerenga involved parents and whanau, and had a focus on whanau-learning.

“Te Whanau Reo Maori is fortunate to have had many Ngati Porou pakeke (elders) give freely of their knowledge and time to these haerenga as well as to the kura.

“Sadly most of those pakeke are no longer with us,” said koka Karin.

“Papa Nick Pewhairangi was the first Te Whanau Reo Maori pakeke and came on many haerenga.

“There were also our kaiarahi reo — Ministry of Education-funded language assistants — who brought with them a depth of knowledge in te reo and tikanga.

“These were Maiangi Maru, Toti Tuhaka, Mate Wynyard, Tamati Reid and Pani Pewhairangi.

“When Nanny Pani retired, her place was taken by one of our Te Whanau Reo Maori graduates, Tahea-Rose Gibson.

“Now this position is held by another graduate of Maori medium education, Te Aowera Kupenga.

“There was nanny Ethel McPherson who, when she retired after 40 years of mainstream teaching, became the te reo Maori resource assistant and developed Maori teaching resources across the curriculum.”

Rawinia Puia-Gordon was one of the first students of Te Whanau Reo Maori, and has come full circle as she is now a kaiako and has also had her own children attend the unit.

When Rawinia was six, her family moved back to Gisborne from Wellington.

At that time there was no total immersion option in Gisborne city. As a child who had come from kohanga reo, she found it difficult in a mainstream setting.

“My parents heard the talk of the bilingual unit at Waikirikiri, which was 32km from where we were situated in Mangatu.

“Mum and dad attended a whanau hui at the kura and without hesitation they quickly enrolled me. That was the beginning of our whanau relationship with Waikirikiri.

“I would leave Mangatu at 6.45am with my mum, who would come into town to work. I would be dropped off at my koro Ruka Brown’s house, where I would have breakfast then walk to school.

“After school I would walk back to my koro and wait for my mum to finish work.

“My schooling at Waikirikiri was priceless. I was finally at a kura that put my culture and whakapapa at the forefront of my education.

“I felt culturally connected to what I was learning in all curriculum areas and had a sense of pride in being Ngati Porou.

“The relationship we had with our teachers was special. We had nothing but the utmost respect for them.

“They were rich in knowledge, cultural practices and curriculum content, which shaped us to be well-rounded and confident Maori.

“We always had a sense that we had an obligation to Maoridom, and that the knowledge was not for us alone — it was for us to share and pass on later in life.

Connecting Maori learners

“Two teachers particularly inspired me to take up primary teaching. Hana McFarland and Karin Mahuika demonstrated to me how to connect to Maori learners, and how to motivate and inspire Maori tamariki to be proud of their heritage and culture.

“Now as a teacher in Te Whanau Reo Maori, I strive every day to give back to this kura that gave so much to me as a student.

“My daughters are also confident learners due to their time here.”

Acting principal Lisa Olsen-Brown says the kura always endeavours to continue this proud legacy.

“Whanau are the driving force behind the kura.

“Koka Karin spoke of a time when nannies and papa were in the classrooms sharing their stories and skills with tamariki. The school worked alongside them to help meet their aspirations for their tamariki, mokopuna.

“This is an area we continue to work hard on, getting our whanau involved in an authentic way, as they certainly have been in the past.

“Everything we do at our kura is focused on raising Maori achievement.

“We aim to offer our learners the opportunities and experiences that they may not otherwise be afforded. It’s about nurturing and growing our future Maori leaders.”

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