Different perspectives emerge as students research first encounters

Issue: Volume 98, Number 8

Posted: 20 May 2019
Reference #: 1H9u8x

Students at a Marlborough school are hearing a different side of their local history that includes first encounters between migrants and Māori and how it was experienced by local Iwi.

Whitney Street School students Chad, Belle, Carly and Noah are learning about topics such as the types of weapons on Cook's ship.

At Whitney Street Primary School, students are discovering that the Māori experience of the first encounters is sometimes different to the historical accounts written by Europeans. The students are also exploring their own family’s untold connections and histories. One student has discovered she has Ngāi Tahu ancestry which she was unaware of.

Their research was sparked by the Tuia Encounters 250 (Tuia 250) commemorations and part of this learning was looking into the life of a key figure who led the vital relationship-building process with Māori during James Cook’s visit to New Zealand in 1769-70, which included stops at Ship Cove Meretoto in Marlborough Sounds.

School principal and Tōtaranui trustee Cheryl Wadworth says the students are researching Tupaia, the Tahitian noble, navigator, high priest, artist and diplomat, and the role he played on the Endeavour.

“To Māori, the chief person on the ship was Tupaia, not Cook. He talked to them about their history, traditions and cultural practices, and negotiated with them to help the British interact, trade and obtain food and fresh water supplies,” she says.

“Tupaia could understand te reo Māori and that helped in establishing good relations and communications. For Cook, the outcome could have been very different without Tupaia.”

Tupaia died of fever as the Endeavour sailed back to England and he was mourned by Māori after they learned of his death when Cook returned to the cove in 1773.

A community of learning

The school’s curriculum focuses on sites of significance in the Marlborough Sounds including Ship Cove Meretoto, where the first significant cross-cultural encounters between Māori and non-Māori took place in 1770.

The cove is one of four landing sites where Cook stopped as he sailed around New Zealand mapping the coastline for the British government and documenting everything he encountered.

Planning for the Tuia 250 commemorations has been led by the Tōtaranui Trust, which includes representation from local historians, iwi, and the education, arts, and tourism sectors.

Cheryl says the trust has worked in partnership with iwi on the learning programme that has been under way for two years, and is across the curriculum including Literacy, Social Sciences, Science and Art.

“The overarching theme is ‘Dual heritage - shared future’,” Cheryl says. “Much of the kaupapa is related to Māori and it has been fascinating to find out various student perspectives of the encounters.”

Local activities

The overarching theme of the students’ learning about Tuia 250 is “Dual heritage, shared future”.

The learning explorations go well beyond the school gates. Art produced by the children for Tuia 250 will be displayed in the local Millennium Art Gallery, and there will be art workshops for children to explore their own culture and identity.

The students are working with the district council as part of the Enviro-Schools Programme to learn about the environmental impact of development over time. Theatre sports professionals will also be teaching drama skills so that students can perform stories about migration, culture and heritage.

There are plans to install an art display on the foreshore in Picton, to reference the landing site across the waters in Ship Cove Meretoto. Cheryl says a big community event is also planned for November, when the flotilla of vessels that are visiting areas significant to the first encounters arrives in Marlborough.

“We want this to be a legacy project. Marlborough is now very culturally diverse and the aim of our work is that all students, through understanding the impact of the first encounters, will develop an awareness of and empathy for others’ perspectives.”

What students think

Year 6 student Belle Sweeney has worked with her mother on family research and says, “It’s exciting to learn about our history and how our ancestors lived before the treaty. I asked my mum who my ancestors were, and I found out they were Ngāi Tahu. Māori fought the British because they thought the settlers were trespassers - and they were.”

Carly Craig, who is also Year 6, says, “My dad and I were researching and we discovered that Cook’s wife lived for 56 years after he died. That is amazing.”

Her research is also looking at the ships, and life on board, as well as what happened after Cook’s voyages.

“It’s been very surprising to learn that the Pākehā British completely took over New Zealand and Māori couldn’t do anything to stop it,” she says.

Tips for teachers from Cheryl

  • Develop local resources that reflect local history
  • Plug into local iwi as partners, as they can provide valuable insights into the community, and learning does not happen only in the classroom
  • Engage families/ whānau and the wider community
  • Partner up with other schools
  • Think big – plan a big event as a celebration, with students involved in the planning, or develop a play or theatre show
  • Share your resources, and make them easily accessible
  • Use local knowledge bases, such as museums and historical societies. Often, museums have a heritage learning programme

Connect with the school on Facebook(external link)

Learning resources for Tuia 250(external link) available nationwide

Locally-written learning resources have been produced by the Tōtaranui Trust, including three books, which will be available to all schools nationwide. They are aimed at middle primary students but can be adapted for other age ranges, and have been developed as e-books, which are interactive and adaptable. The titles are “Riki and the Ship”, “The Mystery of Aotearoa” and “The Naming Of Our Place”, all available in te reo Māori and English.

The e-books(external link) contain links to Google Maps, bird song and other audio, and historical notes that will spur inquiry. A button on the e-books can be clicked to have the story read out in either language. “They’re great resources for student-led inquiry with wonderful pictures and stimulating text”, Cheryl says.

She says a key aspect of her school’s curriculum is whanaungatanga, and that can be explored in subjects such as Science, Art or Social Sciences, or it could be inquiry-based. “We’re also working with many local organisations in the wider community, such as the council, museum and art gallery.

“Whānau are also a great learning opportunity, as parents and other family members will all have their histories to share, which the children may not be aware of.”

Co-designing 2D digital games help students explore own stories

Two Marlborough schools are working with the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and the game coding platform Gamefoot on the Games for Tuia project(external link), which will support Year 9 students to become co-designers and co-creators of 2D digital games using place-based stories and local histories, as well as the themes of Tuia 250.

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

Posted: 8:52 PM, 20 May 2019

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