Kāwhia School’s learning journey

Issue: Volume 99, Number 8

Posted: 2 June 2020
Reference #: 1HA7s3

The development of Kāwhia School’s local curriculum (marau ā-kura) was a collaborative process involving input from the wider school community and reflects shared goals for learners and whānau.

The Kāwhia whānau developed this visual representation of their marau ā-kura. The hoe (paddles) show the Kāwhia Iwi; Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngati Te Wehi and Iwi Kē (everyone else). The sail includes the words of the kura whakatauki and waka is moving through the waves depicting the four marau ā-kura themes.

'The Kāwhia School whakataukī ‘Kaua e mutu kere noa iho – Never cease learning opportunities placed before us’ captures the commitment of the local community and staff to co-design, co-develop and implement a marau ā-kura (local curriculum) that reflects shared goals and aspirations for ākonga and whānau.

Principal Leanne Lim-Apiti says it has been a learning journey. She was enthusiastic about delivering a curriculum that reflects student needs and strengthening relationships with whānau and the wider school community.

The development of Kāwhia School student graduate profiles set the scene and gained interest from whānau and community to be involved. Their contributions highlighted the fact that the existing curriculum didn’t reflect what they wanted for their tamariki.

Leanne, the board and staff knew things had to change and were fortunate to work with facilitator, Robyn Hata-Gage from Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust. It was important for Leanne that an experienced facilitator led this process, to build trust and confidence with the community.

As Leanne commented, “I took a back seat and was learning as a participant and a partner rather than a leader.”

From 2016, a series of hui led by Robyn enabled honest, open and increasingly deep discussions about how the curriculum should reflect the diverse needs of all ākonga.

In 2019, the school incorporated Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko into their marau ā-kura, initially as a trial. In the final year, Whaea Robyn worked with Leanne and kaiako to develop curriculum content aligned to the school’s whakataukī and themes that had been developed by the larger group.

The marau is being implemented as a living document, meaning that there are always adjustments and additions in response to education changes and to new information from the whānau and the wider community.

The Kāwhia School marau ā-kura draws on the strength of the identity, language and culture of their place and community. The local community, whānau and staff worked together to develop the marau ā-kura by creating visuals and leading discussions according to their interest and experience.

The school uses the image of a waka, with the school’s whakataukī on the sail to reinforce their vision that learning is a lifelong journey and it is the role of the school community to instil a passion for learning that endures beyond their primary schooling years.

The hoe (paddles) represent the local iwi; Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Te Wehi and Iwi Kē (other members of the local community).

The illustration of the waka of Kāwhia School depicts each child reaching their hoe (paddle) into the waters of Kāwhia Moana, Kāwhia Kai, Kāwhia Tangata, Aotea Whenua.

The four themes are a part of the marau ā-kura:

  • Kāwhia moana – the water that is a life force, that cleans and signifies new beginnings, and everything that is local to Kāwhia.
  • Kāwhia kai – sustenance, knowledge, nurturing.
  • Kāwhia tangata – the people, whakapapa gives us history, connections to each other, to kīngitanga.
  • Aotea whenua – beyond Kāwhia, everyone is a global citizen, standing firm in who they are.

At the same time as the work was happening with the community to develop the marau ā-kura, the school staff were involved in Positive Behaviour for Learning development. Leanne and kaiako were determined that the work that emerged from this would be incorporated into the marau ā-kura. This was achieved by the inclusion of the Manaakitia (values) Framework:

  • Manaakitia Tōu Ao.
  • Manaakitia Ngētehi Atu.
  • Manaakitia Te Taiao.

Kāwhia is an important area for Tainui iwi. Te Takanga o te Wā – Māori History Guidelines – provided a framework and a resource guide about Kāwhia Harbour. The discussions with whānau brought out a lot of valued history and these discussions are continuing.

Some gems include:

  • the final landing place of Tainui waka at Kāwhia – where this happened is well known by the locals. 
  • the well-known legend ‘Rona and the Moon’ originates from Kāwhia and is identified by Te Puna o Rona – Rona’s spring.
  • the taro planted in Kāwhia by the wife of Hoturoa (Kaihautū-captain of Tainui waka) still grows in the area.

What does this look like in action? 

Kāwhia School is a dual-medium school with Māori and English medium classes. Both mediums use the same marau ā-kura but reference different curricula in the implementation. They all plan together and the Māori medium kaiako are able to support reo and tikanga inclusion into planning for English medium classes.

What made it all work?

Taking time was important, with the journey being as important as the outcome. Leanne and her staff were equal learners with the whānau and this was achieved by having a skilled facilitator to plant seeds for the whānau community to grasp and respond to. 

This approach means that the marau reflects the kura and is much richer for the whānau input. The strong mana whenua input has meant that the school is enabling ahi kaa – ‘keeping the fire going’ – as more tamariki are learning about the history of their whenua.

Watch the Local Curriculum Webinar, NZC online(external link). Principal Leanne Lim-Apiti shares her insights about the importance of creating their own marau ā-kura for their student success with whānau, iwi and local community. 

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

Posted: 8:23 am, 2 June 2020

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