How knowing our stories empowers us

Issue: Volume 101, Number 5

Posted: 27 April 2022
Reference #: 1HATwP

As Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā is rolled out across the motu, ākonga share their thoughts about the localised content.

Ākonga at Pukekohe Intermediate School, pictured here with kaiako Kelly Andrew (right), retiring principal Gary Sweeney and iwi advisor Monique Henry (left) have a new perspective on local history through their Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories mahi.

Ākonga at Pukekohe Intermediate School, pictured here with kaiako Kelly Andrew (right), retiring principal Gary Sweeney and iwi advisor Monique Henry (left) have a new perspective on local history through their Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories mahi.

At Pukekohe Intermediate School, Year 7 ākonga are animated as they discuss the history of their town, south of Auckland.

“It’s a crazy thing that this history happened where I grew up and where I live,” says 11-year-old Lily. 

Lily and her classmates have been learning the history of Pukekohe which includes events that were devastating to local Māori, including racial segregation, land confiscation and high infant mortality rates.  

“There are difficult things to talk about,” says Kelly Andrew, kaiako and across-schools teacher for Pukekohe Kāhui Ako. “What has been refreshing is that the students are very capable of making up their own minds on events. The units are planned so that students are given facts and information from different perspectives, then they use a range of resources to draw their own conclusions about events. It has been interesting for them to realise that a lot of land around Pukekohe was confiscated land. That’s quite a large piece of information for 12-year-olds to digest.

“But these students are going to grow up and this is going to be natural to them. They’re going to know our history and I believe that will bring about positive change.”

Matekino Marshall and Monique Henry from Ngāti Tamaoho Trust worked closely with Pukekohe Intermediate to shape marau ā-kura | local curriculum.

Matekino Marshall and Monique Henry from Ngāti Tamaoho Trust worked closely with Pukekohe Intermediate to shape marau ā-kura | local curriculum.

Making connections

As Kelly says, ākonga are making connections with stories then relating it to events in their own lives. “It’s not just about, ‘Oh, this happened in 1863’, and sequencing dates and events, it’s about making connections with people and their stories and understanding how that even impacts us right through to today.”

She says students light up when they identify connections to local history. 

“Today we talked about how settlers came over on the HMS Ganges, and one of the boys said he thought his family might have been on that ship. So, we went to find the passenger list for the Ganges and sure enough, there’s his family! So, they do make connections.”

She says students are surprised by what they find around them. 

“The students were going to research the headstones from World War I out the front of our school and one of the students said, ‘I think that’s my great-great-great grandfather.’ She went off on her own investigation and sure enough, that was her great-great-great-grandfather.”

“It’s about leading them to the information, then pulling that information apart and talking about it. It could be something simple like setting up a bus stop with different scenarios and the students can talk about those. That’s what gets them excited.”

For Lily, learning the stories of her locale has left her incredulous about the trauma endured by her ancestors.

“I don’t really like how other people came onto this land and decided that they would own it and that they could control people. People living here were forced to leave or they would have been killed. It was not fair, and it’s not fair that even now people still don’t own as much land as they used to,” she says.

Chloe, 12, says it is difficult to imagine what it must have been like. “It’s like people coming on your doorstep and just taking what you hold dear to your heart.”

The students all relate their local histories learning to what is happening in Ukraine. 

Chloe reflects on the impact today’s events will have on future generations. “I have seen videos of soldiers crying because they are leaving their country to take over another country and they don’t know if they will return to their families. And it’s crazy that for the generations after us, they’ll be learning the history that is going on right now and is happening to us.” 

Lily adds, “That circles back to the British taking the Māori land. The British came and found this beautiful country with beautiful land and beautiful soil, and they’re like, ‘This will really boost our economy and make our country look better.’ But they didn’t consider the fact that they were taking somebody else’s land and hurting them.”

Inter-generational learning

At Monrad – Te Kura Waenga o Tirohanga, assistant principal Lewis Karaitiana and team leader Kelsi Te Peeti are observing significant growth amongst ākonga as they gain a stronger sense of identity through learning afforded by Te Takanga o Te Wā framework.

The kura in Palmerston North has 76 ākonga in a Māori immersion setting.

Kelsi says Te Takanga o Te Wā is a basis for strengthening connections in the community.

“The connections empower not only tamariki but our whānau and their whānau by validating stories and their own knowledge of what they can share with their tamariki. Whether it’s a small or a big kōrero it still has an impact on our tamariki with the ability to stand with confidence to understand and believe in who they are, where they come from and who they come from. 

“It’s about putting value on the significant learning that’s handed down through the generations, creating learning opportunities for our tamariki to understand more about themselves by working with their whānau and knowing that their stories are important, their knowledge base is valued. Ultimately our tamariki will be responsible for handing down the stories and knowledge of their whānau to their tamariki in the future.

“Te Takanga o Te Wā is an opportunity to indigenise our tamariki and heal the intergenerational trauma by reclaiming our history and telling our stories from a Māori worldview.

Ākonga and kaiako from Monrad – Te Kura Waenga o Tirohanga are proud to have their whānau and region acknowledged through Te Takanga o Te Wā.

Ākonga and kaiako from Monrad – Te Kura Waenga o Tirohanga are proud to have their whānau and region acknowledged through Te Takanga o Te Wā.

“I think everybody should just give it a try,” says Kelsi. “You may see small achievements. You may see big achievements, but I’m sure that you will see happier students who want to know who they are and are proud to be who they are, where they come from, no matter what culture they are, no matter what language they speak. They will have the foundation to be able to grow in the world and become who they want to become.”

Stepping up 

Rangatahi say looking at their ancestors’ past has them thinking about the futures they want for themselves and their own tamariki.

“I want my tamariki to know who they are and where they come from, and be proud of that, and to know that no one can take that away from them,” says Kalas. 

AJ’s and Willow’s parents have been inspired by their children’s learning and enrolled to learn te reo Māori alongside them. 

“My dad lost his te reo as a child, so he has been learning with me,” says Willow. “We want to speak it together as a family. It makes me feel a lot better because now when we go to the marae, we can really connect with our whānau and other te reo Māori speakers.”

Eve has developed a curiosity and passion for environmental issues since learning about the history of the Manawatū River. She wants to be a kaitiaki for her iwi, to treasure the connection between Tangata Whenua and Papatūānuku. 

Chevolei has been inspired by the story of Hine Te Arorangi, a descendant of Hāmua and of Rangitāne who became a respected leader of her Rangitāne people. “I would like to be like Hine Te Arorangi, to be part of history one day, to be someone who made a great contribution.”

A Pacific People’s perspective

Ākonga at Pacific Advance Secondary School work with carving instructor Fred Harrison, Tainui iwi, to create visual art depicting local history.

Ākonga at Pacific Advance Secondary School work with carving instructor Fred Harrison, Tainui iwi, to create visual art depicting local history.

Pacific Advance Secondary School (PASS) in Ōtāhuhu is Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Pacific school for students in Years 9 to 13. Ākonga have been exploring connections between their Mana Moana ancestral history to Tangata Whenua Māori and Pākehā.

Co-principal Parehuia Enari, also known as Tinā/Mum, says talavou undertake a journey that they begin from their ancestors which they call Vā Tupuna. 

“Term 1 begins with Mana Tangata, which is about diving deeply into their identity and culture, looking at how they may view themselves as individuals and how they collectively maintain respectful and positive relationships with their peers, whānau and wider community. And for the terms to come, they will focus on Mana Whenua, which references the land, climate change and kaitiakitanga. Mana Langi will be highlighted in term 3, which is about creation, reaching for the stars and seeing the big picture, then Mana Moana in term 4 which is our connections across the ocean, deep diving into ourselves and into the legacies of what our tupuna have taught us.”

Kaiako Christopher Tuuga-Stevenson, known as Uncle Chris, has observed a high level of engagement among rangatahi.
“Our students are able to make links between their own cultures. It’s been cool to hear them say, ‘Oh I didn’t know that tangata whenua actually whakapapa to way back and that we have a shared history.’

“We found that students thought Aotearoa New Zealand history began when Pākehā arrived which couldn’t be further from the truth. Our Aotearoa history started a long, long time before the arrival of Pākehā, and when our students picked up that people were already living here with a developed culture, they could value looking at what’s happened since then and the impacts of colonisation and of power and control over people. They are able to appreciate how these events have shaped the Aotearoa New Zealand that we live in today.”

“We have been learning about land loss and Dame Whina Cooper,” says Ulalei, 15. “It’s relevant to me because we have our own nans and koro who have experienced it [land loss] and they’ve told us the stories but it’s good for us to learn more about perspectives of both Māori and Pākehā. It’s cool because it feels like our culture is being included and it’s something that is not an option, everyone is going to participate.” 

“Learning about the history of Māori and our culture makes me feel we are valued,” says Nelson, 18. “It’s important to me that my kids and grandkids learn about this and their Tongan culture so they know what has happened in the past, then history won’t repeat itself.” 

The Ngāti Tamaoho Trust created this marau ā-kura | local curriculum in collaboration with the Pukekohe Kāhui Ako.

The Ngāti Tamaoho Trust created this marau ā-kura | local curriculum in collaboration with the Pukekohe Kāhui Ako.

Iwi-school curriculum partnership

Pukekohe Intermediate has been working closely with local iwi Ngāti Tamaoho Trust to develop its marau ā-kura | local curriculum, mahi that has taken months of consultation and hui. The pathway is now available for purchase by local schools and kura, and as part of the arrangement, the trust advises on how to implement the framework.

Monique Henry, who works for the trust and at Pukekohe High School, says the framework ties together history, language, and protocols. Goals can be integrated across the curriculum, and all have checkpoints at an emergent level, development level and an implementation stage. 

She says schools can make the most of the pathway by allowing time to build the relationship with iwi and to committing to nurturing it. 

“The trust is not doing this to make money, we are doing it to provide the opportunity for ākonga to learn the true stories and the sacredness of our history. 

“They will have the opportunity to look at history through many different perspectives and then make an informed opinion rather than going with someone else’s opinion which may be biased. 

“This is for everyone, not just Māori students, but I do think that having this in place will allow Māori more of a sense of belonging in the education system, a sense of direction and of feeling equal to other students in the school.”

Content of the new Social Sciences curriculum is proving very engaging for ākonga.

Content of the new Social Sciences curriculum is proving very engaging for ākonga.

Further support for schools and kura

During the public consultation phase of the draft curriculum content, feedback was sought from  ākonga and young people via an online survey, face-to-face focus groups and engagement events around the motu. 

The Ministry will support schools and kura to understand and engage with the new content, with resources and professional learning and development opportunities. Support will be available to allow schools and kura to build capability over time, to use the new content and integrate local histories and contexts relevant to their communities and ākonga into their marau ā-kura | local curriculum from 2023. 

Now that the final curriculum content has been released, schools and kura will be taking time to become familiar with it and explore opportunities for involving their whānau and communities in their marau ā-kura | local curriculum.

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

Posted: 1:50 PM, 27 April 2022

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