Classroom Release Time supports connection to Tikanga and te reo Māori

Issue: Volume 103, Number 4

Posted: 4 April 2024
Reference #: 1HAft3

Harata Hape, a 36-year veteran teacher at St Joseph’s School, Hastings, has switched gears from teaching in the classroom to a full-time Classroom Release Time role. The new venture has enabled her to nurture ākonga knowledge of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori, a true passion of hers.

Harata in her zone, sharing her expertise on te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

Harata in her zone, sharing her expertise on te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

With a tremendous Classroom Release Time (CRT) built up at St Joseph’s School, principal Aaron O’Neill saw this as an opportunity to do something rich and meaningful for their ākonga.

They’ve spent the last five years developing a local curriculum, incorporating key principles such as te reo Māori, tikanga and kaupapa Māori, and most importantly Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Kaiako Harata Hape emphasises that, “we’re using [Te Tiriti] as the waka to teach te reo, tikanga and kaupapa Māori.”

Through consultation with community and parents, they developed ways in which they could turn these concepts into actions.

Parents voiced their desire for ākonga to experience and learn Māori practices and traditions such as marae visits, preparing hāngī, planting native trees and learning about myths and legends. Most importantly, they want their children to learn about Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Matariki and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories.

Aaron has worked closely with Harata to ensure that their local curriculum reflects the needs and aspirations of the learners and their whānau. They have a shared determination to implement and strengthen the programme to ensure it is available to current and future learners and staff.

“It’s a great opportunity. We’re hoping to build sustainable practices across the school; we want to make sure that this is set out well into the future,” says Aaron.

Collective effort and responsibility

Harata has many gifts, one of them being her love and deep knowledge of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori.

Since 1987, Harata has shared this with learners, staff and whānau o te kura since she was appointed the music and kapa haka teacher.

She proclaims, “I walked through the gate with my guitar, song chart, voice and my love for te reo Māori, ready to share and express that.”

Despite being the only Māori staff member at the school, Harata has never been alone on her journey. The school staff and whānau are always willing to lend a hand when needed.

“St Joseph’s School and whānau have always been supportive of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga education,” she says.

It’s a collective effort and responsibility and having the support and guidance of staff and whānau has been a real gift to Harata.

Ākonga at St Josephs’ School fully immersed in Māori language and culture through kapa haka.

Ākonga at St Josephs’ School fully immersed in Māori language and culture through kapa haka.

CRT programme in action

The programme is implemented in every class during every teacher’s classroom release time. The week is divided into 11 blocks and 11 classrooms all get an equal share.

Alongside te reo Māori and tikanga, the programme bridges big concepts from the local curriculum to life and in practice.

“We’re building the plane as we’re flying it,” says Aaron.

Included in this journey is Sharron Fabish from the University of Auckland who helps Harata put structure and robustness into the programme.

A key component of this support has been in the technological space, helping Harata bring her gift of knowledge into the digital formats embraced by ākonga in their learning.

Harata and Aaron emphasise the importance of creating a genuine programme that not only encapsulates Harata’s taonga but also that of local hapu.

“One of our whānau, Charles Ropitini, Pou Ahurea principal Māori advisor for the Hastings District council, is a solid hapū representative for us. He’s worked alongside and advised us throughout this journey. It required quite a lot of focus and shared determination and hard work to get it done,” Aaron says.

Through their partnership with local hapū, Aaron shares that Charles gifted their ākonga with a school pepeha.

“A part of the process in working with local hapū and iwi is we were gifted a school pepeha. It’s been woven into the curriculum as well. It’s also reflected in the art around the school.”

Aaron also shares the inclusion of some significant areas of the programme; the crossover of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori and the St Joseph’s School Catholic character as well as an important link to the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum. Aaron proudly states that their Catholic curriculum has always been inclusive of te reo and tikanga Māori.

Ākonga proudly showcasing a haka with confidence and mana.

Ākonga proudly showcasing a haka with confidence and mana.

Enabling ākonga to thrive

Staff appreciate the opportunities for ākonga made possible by Harata and the CRT programme, and they also value the programme as it covers a space that a lot of staff aren’t comfortable teaching themselves.

They believe that with Harata accompanying their journey, over time this will build their confidence with te reo Māori and tikanga Māori.

Harata is enjoying the journey and is on the constant hunt for resources and new opportunities to incorporate into the programme.

When assessing how successful the programme has been to date, Aaron emphasises, “when we talk about success, we don’t look at it as a destination but more as an ongoing journey.

“Your best measure [of success] is when you hear the children speak the language, and it just comes naturally in the situational context.”

Harata and Aaron are looking forward to exploring the goals they have for continuing this programme, including planning for their next marae visit in term 4.

Aaron expresses the importance of Harata sharing the taonga of her knowledge with the students and the positive effect on their learning.

“[I want] for the children to take ownership, for them to take over, for them to be heard. Let them talk, let them own it and be able to speak confidently and have the hunger to learn more.

“We’re valuing and prioritising this programme because it is of high importance to us. It’s just become a part of our way at St Joseph’s School,” concludes Aaron.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:49 am, 4 April 2024

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