Iwi learning hub builds confidence, gets results

Issue: Volume 98, Number 18

Posted: 28 October 2019
Reference #: 1HA1AW

In Issue 17 of the Education Gazette we ran a story about how the Ngāti Toa learning hub, Te Puna Mātauranga, is supporting Māori educational achievement through a unique model of collaboration between schools, whānau and Iwi.
The Puna works with children from five Porirua primary schools and individual secondary school students.
Here we bring you reports from teachers and parents about the difference the Puna has made for them and their tamariki.

The principal of Ngāti Toa School, Kaye Brunton, says her school became involved with Te Puna Mātauranga about three years ago and tamariki feel supported as they see their teachers, whānau and Puna staff all working together for them.

“It’s a great way to build their mana, but also their safety and security because they know they’ve got all these people clustered around them. Also they see ‘everyone’s got their eye on me, everybody is on the same page around where I am at and I know that my teacher will talk to my parent or the Puna teacher if I’m not behaving well, or getting stuck in my learning’,” Kaye says.

The initial aim was to work with tamariki and rangatahi who would benefit from support outside of school. The children went to the Puna and then teachers from the Puna and Ngāti Toa School visited the children in each location to get an idea of their learning contexts, with Puna teachers working alongside the children.

“It’s like there’s a net that catches them and people are communicating about their best interests,” Kaye says. “Working with the Puna has made a difference to the school in that we see the children in a more natural space, and we have seen some children in quite a different light. For example, children who have been more reticent here, are more confident down at the Puna.”

Connecting outside the classroom

Teacher Nicole Avatea says that seeing a different side of tamariki can provide ways to connect with the child in the classroom.

A girl who had bounced from school to school arrived in the classroom and was withdrawn and wouldn’t engage with anyone.

“We tried lots of things to get through to her, but then we had a Year 6 graduation dinner at the Ngāti Toa marae and she was part of the team to help prepare for that. She lit up – she flew into action and just shone. After that, we were able to plan activities and lessons that were focused around being in a marae setting and that enabled her to bring her knowledge and experience to the table,” Nicole explains

Finding strengths

Nicole and Erena Latu co-teach a class of Years 4 and 5 at Ngāti Toa School. They say the Puna has resulted in more interaction between the school and home and has helped them identify the strengths of each child and their whānau.

“For example, next term we will be doing taha hinengaro [mental health] and part of that will be looking at traditional Māori medicine [rongoā]. One of the mums is an expert in this area, so hopefully we will be able to bring her into the classroom,” Nicole says.

Students attending the Puna gained confidence, which has had a big impact on their learning, says Erana.

Better communication

Kaye says that communication with whānau has also been helped by the Puna. She recalls a mother who didn’t seem to be engaged in her child’s learning. After talking to her whanaunga at the Puna, they discovered some barriers the mother faced in her own learning.

 “I think coming to the school was quite scary and daunting for her and she didn’t feel she had the skills to help her daughter. Our staff went and had parent interviews with her down at the Puna. Doing that has had really positive spinoffs in the relationships between teachers, whānau and children,” Kaye says.

Holding parent teacher interviews at the Puna has meant being able to engage with some whānau who had been elusive, Erena says.

“It’s enriching the life of the school and the life of our students. Seeing us in that Puna space has definitely helped a lot. They can see ‘oh, look our teachers are here, and they actually care about what we are doing in our own time’. I think that has helped their confidence as well,” Erena says.

Confident and proud tamariki

Trish Masoe and her tamariki have been involved with Te Puna Mātauranga for four years and she says something similar would have benefitted her at school.

Trish left school when she was 16 with NCEA Levels 1 and 2 and says support from an iwi-based hub would have changed her attitude towards schooling.

“I would have studied a lot more. My attitude was more along the lines of ‘I’ll do it later’, where I didn’t do it later and I didn’t know how to make connections with that type of support.”

Māori and Pākehā worlds

Both of Trish’s older children have been helped in different ways by the Puna. Her 11-year-old son has become more comfortable and confident at school.

“Education in Te Ao Pākehā is quite hard for him. He doesn’t understand most concepts, whereas being here, he learns in a way that’s more Te Ao Māori and can then relate it to Te Ao Pākehā.

“He’s a hands-on environmental kind of kid, where writing things down and learning from a whiteboard isn’t his thing. Coming here and having that one-on-one support and being surrounded by his cousins was an added bonus for him, because he’s not alone in the way he develops.

Trish says her nine-year-old son is more ‘Te Ao Pākehā’ but loves attending the Pā Wānanga classes, which have helped him develop his understanding of Te Ao Māori.

The support of Bianca and her team at the Puna in dealing with the schools that her tamariki attend has also been valuable.

“If I don’t feel comfortable going to the school by myself, I could come here and know they would support me and they would often say, ‘no, this is what needs to happen – just ask them this, this and this...’ That’s something I would not have been able to do if we didn’t have the Puna,” says Trish.

Learning Ngāti Toa heritage

Chloe Tukukino moved to Australia with her family when she was 10 and returned to Porirua 16 years later, married with four children aged between nine months and 10 years. She says she is getting a lot of satisfaction from returning to her roots and watching her tamariki develop connections with their heritage.

“My daughter (10) started school in Australia and she didn’t have any of the Māori heritage learning over there.
But moving back here, she’s learned who she is and she’s really proud of that. She now knows where she’s from and who her whānau are,” Chloe says.

Chloe’s children attend the Pā Wānanga at Te Puna Mātauranga twice a week, where they learn te reo, waiata, karakia and how to do their mihimihi. They learn what it means to be Ngāti Toa on and around the maraes, to support their learning of te reo Māori and tikanga.

Chloe says she has complete confidence in her aunties, who facilitate the Puna to not only pass on tikanga Māori, but also supplement school learning.

“My daughter wasn’t very strong at maths, but they were going to be doing maths as part of the Puna programme and she improved a lot,” Chloe says.

“From being part of Puna for about two years and seeing my tamariki settled here, my vision for them is not so much in secular learning but in being settled in whatever vocation they choose… if it’s university or not university, something in the arts or with their hands, it’s about accentuating who they are. It’s about them being confident and authentic,”
she says.

Puna tamariki participating in Pā Wānanga - weekly reo workshops.

This article is one of a two-part series; see the other article here(external link).

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

Posted: 9:34 AM, 28 October 2019

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