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Bringing local history to life in Tauranga Moana 

Issue: Volume 100, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2021
Reference #: 1HAKnF

Education Gazette talks to members of Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group about how schools and iwi are working together to create a localised curriculum resource that can be used across all schools, kura and early learning centres in Tauranga Moana.

Curriculum partnership in action

Watch Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group talk about how and why they are collaborating to create a local history curriculum resource for their community.

The base of Mauao provides a neutral – and stunning – setting to meet with some of the people involved with building an ambitious new local curriculum initiative for the Tauranga Moana region.

The three local iwi are working with the region’s five Kāhui Ako to produce a new Te Ao Māori curriculum resource that can be used in all 67 schools and early learning centres, from Katikati in the north to Maketu in the south. The resource will encompass foundational te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, stories and history.

“It’s about every teacher having a resource they can go to that links them to the local history, to the national histories curriculum,” explains Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School principal Henk Popping, who heads up the group. “So a teacher at Omanu will be able to link into the resource and see what’s important to Omanu, for example.”

Underpinned by trust

Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki is an initiative that has been years in the making, as the region’s Kāhui Ako have worked to strengthen their relationships with each other and local iwi and hapū.

Henk says the initiative is built on trust. “It’s about Kāhui Ako working with iwi through a genuine, transparent process of developing something for everyone.

“The Kāhui Ako and iwi used to sit at separate tables, but over time as our relationships have strengthened, iwi are now active members of each Kāhui Ako in Tauranga Moana.

It’s a relationship that has strengthened in recent years. Henk recalls a conversation from years ago that made him really think about the importance of genuine relationships.

When establishing the new Ōtūmoetai Kāhui Ako, Henk – as lead principal at the time – approached Te Wharekura o Mauao to join. “Tumuaki (at the time) Koa Douglas said to me, ‘Henk, we don’t want to be a ‘dial a pōwhiri’ and we don’t want to be the salad dressing’.”

“And I guess that’s set the scene for the journey that we’re embarking on now. It’s about a genuine relationship, a genuine partnership between the schools and the local community, particularly our iwi, hapū and our whānau.”

Arohanoa Mathews, education manager for Ngai Te Rangi, says the relationship is characterised by respect and transparency.

“Having iwi as part of this kaitiaki group is really about driving our vision, with our stories, and having that control of where they can go.

“I think one of the key things with this kaupapa is that iwi and hapū can have a voice, that we can normalise our world within mainstream schools and to support kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa schools.”

“I think that the majority of our people are still yet to find out who they are, where they belong, and learn our language,” says Arohanoa.

Different perspectives

Members of Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group at the base of Mauao.

Members of Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group at the base of Mauao.

Vianney Douglas, Ministry of Education manager for Western Bay of Plenty, says the timing has been perfect with the implementation of the Aotearoa New Zealand histories curriculum. It has meant the Ministry has been able to support with funding and become partners in the approach to developing local curriculum through supporting iwi and schools alongside TECT Trust.

“I think we’d like to see that children, regardless of which school they attend, have access to this rich narrative from this community,” she says.

Ken Ward, Tauranga Peninsula Kāhui Ako lead, says understanding the local context is important.

“It’s too easy to just pick something off the shelf and teach that in the classroom and I just don’t think that has the authenticity. There’s more than one story in terms of Tauranga Moana so it’s really important that our students are getting all those different perspectives,” says Ken.

Reg Blake, principal of Otepou School and education manager for Ngāti Pukenga, gives the example of the story of Mauao. Each local iwi has a different story relating to the maunga, he says. “We’re not trying to confuse the kids or the teachers but more to give them a different perspective.”

Reg says ensuring the sustainability of the project is essential.

“Having all our entities – iwi and schools – around the table for the bigger picture and for the long-term is of great importance.”

Ken agrees. “I think it’s going to help change perspectives of Aotearoa New Zealand long term. We’re going to have a generation of students coming through our schooling system who will truly understand pre-European settlement and that mana whenua story.

“I think it’s going to benefit all students. We all live in Aotearoa New Zealand – we need to understand the story of our country,” he says.

Next steps

The project has been launched and now project leads are being recruited to get the curriculum development underway. The next step will be rolling out to the schools and early learning centres.

Toni Heke-Ririnui, education manager for Ngāti Ranginui, one of the three iwi involved, doesn’t anticipate this will be a problem.

“The biggest challenge initially was to get iwi on board – iwi are there. So now the challenge is to get kura on board. There’s a huge cry for this kind of kōrero, this kind of kaupapa, that it won’t take much at all,” she says.

Ken agrees. “A lot of our schools have been crying out for localised curriculum content, particularly from a Te Ao Māori lens – if we could have it tomorrow, we would.

“For us it’s about the true genuine partnership and relationship we have with iwi. It’s not just about schools taking – it’s about us reciprocating and giving back as well in terms of support for our local people.”

Vianney says this initiative helps show what’s possible for schools.

“I think schools do want to have a relationship with their local iwi and hapū, and for some it’s easy, but for some it’s hard – they don’t know where to start. And this gives an opportunity for making that connection. But it also gives an opportunity for iwi and hapū to engage directly with schools as well if they want to.”

Bigger than schools

Henk anticipates the benefits of the curriculum project will extend beyond schools to the wider community. “I know Tauranga City Council, TECT Trust and the like are keen to see us expand it even further,” he says.

TECT have supported Stage 1 of the project out of their Catalyst for Change fund.

TECT chairperson Bill Holland says the project appealed to TECT due to its potential for a far wider application than just school use.

“It will give the schools a great platform to further develop and strengthen their relationships with local iwi and will support iwi in capturing and documenting their histories in Tauranga Moana to share with future generations as well as all local residents and visitors.

“We can see the potential for this information to be used in the city’s story-telling through tourism and arts and culture sectors – it’s just as much a development of our heritage and culture as an educational resource,” says Bill.

“It’s a significant milestone in the development of our community,” agrees Henk. “And it’s all about the future generations. The benefit is that regardless of the context for learning that a child is in, they will have a greater empathy and understanding of our local history, and they can also develop their own ability to live in Te Ao Māori.”

Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group is working to create a localised curriculum resource that can be used across all schools, kura and early learning centres across Tauranga Moana. Pictured here are Ken Ward (Tauranga Peninsula Kāhui Ako lead), Reg Blake (principal of Otepou School and education manager for Ngāti Pukenga), Henk Popping (principal, Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School), Vianney Douglas (Ministry of Education manager for Western BOP), Toni Heke-Ririnui (education manager for Ngāti Ranginui) and Arohanoa Mathews (education manager for Ngai Te Rangi). 

Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group is working to create a localised curriculum resource that can be used across all schools, kura and early learning centres across Tauranga Moana. Pictured here are Ken Ward (Tauranga Peninsula Kāhui Ako lead), Reg Blake (principal of Otepou School and education manager for Ngāti Pukenga), Henk Popping (principal, Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School), Vianney Douglas (Ministry of Education manager for Western BOP), Toni Heke-Ririnui (education manager for Ngāti Ranginui) and Arohanoa Mathews (education manager for Ngai Te Rangi). 

Have your say

The Aotearoa New Zealand histories draft curriculum(external link) content is currently undergoing public consultation. Consultation closes on 31 May. 

If you are interested in learning more about the draft curriculum content and placing feedback, you can contact AotearoaNewZealandHistories@education.govt.nz

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:34 am, 20 May 2021

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