Taking tamariki on voyage to the stars

THE STAR DOME: Teina Kirikiri (left) and Kawai Joe, are part of a group who have been teaching stories of traditional Maori astronomy to local tamariki (children) over the past week in a star dome classroom, which has been based at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae. Picture by Shaan Te Kani

Ensuring the ancient knowledge of Maori astronomy is passed on to future generations is the purpose of a special star dome that has been based at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae for the past week.

Tauira, or students, of Te Kura o Nga Kuri a Arawhata - The School of Traditional Celestial Navigation have been holding workshops at the star dome for kohanga reo and kura groups, imparting their knowledge of the stars to tamariki (children).

The dome is a portable, blow-up classroom, which belongs to the Society for Maori Astronomy Research and Traditions Trust.

With the aid of a Maori star map, which is projected on to the dome walls to resemble the night sky, names and histories of the stars are shared through oral histories of storytelling and moteatea (traditional Maori waiata).

The students of the navigational school are all crew members of the waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti, which sailed into Turanganui a Kiwa earlier this year.

On board were two local men who have been teaching the children this week — Kawai Joe of Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngati Pahauwera, and Teina Kirikiri of Uawa, Te Aitanga a Hauiti.

They shared stories and footage of their time at sea and spoke about how the stars are integral in navigation and traditional voyaging.

The School of Traditional Celestial Navigation trains a new generation of navigators through knowledge passed down by Pius Mau Piailug of Satawal Island, Micronesia, who features in one of the Sea Walls murals in Gisborne.

The students acknowledged teacher/tohunga (expert) and master navigator Jack Thatcher.

His students are now experiencing what it is like to pass on some of that knowledge.

“There’s something about sharing matauranga Maori (Maori knowledge) of the stars to tamariki, says Kawai. “It’s to ensure that this matauranga lives on.

“It’s good to be sharing with our kids. This kaupapa is all about giving back to our own communities.

“It’s quite a special thing for us to be able to do.”

Ensuring the ancient knowledge of Maori astronomy is passed on to future generations is the purpose of a special star dome that has been based at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae for the past week.

Tauira, or students, of Te Kura o Nga Kuri a Arawhata - The School of Traditional Celestial Navigation have been holding workshops at the star dome for kohanga reo and kura groups, imparting their knowledge of the stars to tamariki (children).

The dome is a portable, blow-up classroom, which belongs to the Society for Maori Astronomy Research and Traditions Trust.

With the aid of a Maori star map, which is projected on to the dome walls to resemble the night sky, names and histories of the stars are shared through oral histories of storytelling and moteatea (traditional Maori waiata).

The students of the navigational school are all crew members of the waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti, which sailed into Turanganui a Kiwa earlier this year.

On board were two local men who have been teaching the children this week — Kawai Joe of Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Ngati Pahauwera, and Teina Kirikiri of Uawa, Te Aitanga a Hauiti.

They shared stories and footage of their time at sea and spoke about how the stars are integral in navigation and traditional voyaging.

The School of Traditional Celestial Navigation trains a new generation of navigators through knowledge passed down by Pius Mau Piailug of Satawal Island, Micronesia, who features in one of the Sea Walls murals in Gisborne.

The students acknowledged teacher/tohunga (expert) and master navigator Jack Thatcher.

His students are now experiencing what it is like to pass on some of that knowledge.

“There’s something about sharing matauranga Maori (Maori knowledge) of the stars to tamariki, says Kawai. “It’s to ensure that this matauranga lives on.

“It’s good to be sharing with our kids. This kaupapa is all about giving back to our own communities.

“It’s quite a special thing for us to be able to do.”

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