Maunga at the centre of local histories mahi

Issue: Volume 101, Number 1

Posted: 2 February 2022
Reference #: 1HASbM

Education Gazette looks at how an Auckland kāhui ako is developing its local histories curriculum from their maunga, Te Pane o Mataoho.

The Māngere Mountain Education Centre supports schools to take guided walks over the maunga as well as workshops at the centre.

The Māngere Mountain Education Centre supports schools to take guided walks over the maunga as well as workshops at the centre.

Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain is a lesser-known treasure in Tāmaki Makaurau, one of the largest volcanic cones in the Auckland region with a history dating back 700 years. Visitors can climb to the top for a 360-degree view of the city, the Manukau Harbour, and a neighbouring maunga, Maungakiekie One Tree Hill.

The kaitiaki of the maunga, Māngere Mountain Education Trust (MMET) is one of the local groups working with the kāhui ako on their local histories curriculum.

These schools have been working with the maunga’s kaitiaki, Māngere Mountain Education Trust (MMET), to develop an authentic and meaningful learner pathway.

Te iti Kahurangi Kāhui Ako lead principal, Robyn Curry, recalls how the mahi began: “Brendon Marshall (Onehunga High School) had been doing an extensive amount of work in sustainability across the kāhui and we thought his work was beautiful, but we realised we needed to take a step back. First, we needed to better understand our place as a kāhui which involved looking at our history through te ao Māori.”

The hīkoi

All lead teachers point to ‘the hīkoi’ as a pivotal moment. On a teacher only day, almost 300 staff from the schools set off on a ‘waka tour’ of the local sites of cultural significance – Ōrākei Marae to hear stories of Bastion Point told by Ngāti Whātua; then to Maungakiekie One Tree Hill; a hāngī lunch at Ihumaatao, and lastly Te Pane o Mataoho. Teachers walked to the summit where they listened to stories of the maunga, an experience many describe as ‘powerful’. 

Robin Tapper from Royal Oak Intermediate says, “When you stand on a maunga and you stop, breathe and listen to what someone’s telling you about the history, for me as a Pākehā, I wasn’t raised like that, and it was a very powerful experience.”

Kydene Sinclair from Te Papapa School says the day gave her more confidence as a Pasifika teaching Māori history.

“Being able to sit in those spaces and hear those stories from the people who experienced them gave me a foundation for starting my journey,” she says.

Brendon says there’s something special about being welcomed onto the land. 

“It made me think about how we can keep offering these experiences to our students. Even when they’re digging in the gardens at our school, we can talk about stories of who used to dig this land.

“By understanding the histories and all the different stories, we can be informed to create a better future,” says Brendon.

The learner pathway

A local curriculum group was formed to develop work to take back into schools, and even the youngest learners are lapping up the content.

“My Māori students worked out that it didn’t matter what iwi you were from, you all came from Hawaiki, they all knew that they came on a waka,” says Kydene. 

“Then we looked at how you got here if you were not Māori and some children who were first generation Kiwi-born had no idea they came on a plane, they thought they drove here. That was a big learning moment for them.

“The children are very engaged because they are familiar with the places we learn about. They say, ‘I know where that is, my mum took me there!’ They can make connections,” she says. 

“We had little ones doing Minecraft, building kumara pits, retelling the stories,” adds Robyn. 

“It’s making that connection to their land and developing their sense of belonging.”  

Robyn says it’s important for all students across the kāhui ako to develop a better understanding of local history and stories and that this knowledge is developed as the students transition through the year levels and schools. 

“Once they know the stories of Te iti Kahurangi we can bring the learning forward into what is happening today in our local areas, and the sustainability work can be extended with clear links to the past.”

Ingrid Gwilliam’s Year 5 and 6 students at Royal Oak Primary have been applying their knowledge to technology, using Scratch programming to recreate the story of Tainui Waka journeying to Aotearoa.  

Learning these stories complements several collaborative projects that support students to become kaitiaki of the area, particularly the Manukau Harbour, Maungakiekie One Tree Hill and Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain. 

For example, the kāhui ako partnered with the Tūpuna Maunga Authority to plant 1,000 trees on the slopes of 
Te Pane o Mataoho, with students paired across schools in a tuakana-teina relationship. 

And each term, two schools survey and audit litter from two local beaches on the Manukau foreshore as part of the Sustainable Coastlines Litter Intelligence Programme. 

In Robin’s words, “In order to care about a place and want to protect it we all have to understand why it’s special and why we need to make it better for the future.” 

Just over 40 students from six schools across Te iti Kahurangi Kāhui Ako worked together to plant 1,000+ trees on Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain.

Just over 40 students from six schools across Te iti Kahurangi Kāhui Ako worked together to plant 1,000+ trees on Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain.

Invaluable partnerships

The Māngere Mountain Education Trust is an invaluable partner for the kāhui, says Robyn. 

“Teachers see the richness of the opportunities at the MMET workshops, and we have an amazing community that wants to engage with us. It’s about structuring that engagement, about how we take our five-year-olds and grow and develop their learning and ensure it’s becoming more complex and higher order thinking. It has to be systematic,” she says. 

Fraser Alaalatoa-Dale, Māngere local and general manager of the MMET, says the development of the draft Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum has triggered a lot of interest in learning opportunities offered at the maunga with more bookings from school groups than ever before.

“We think schools developing their own local history curriculum is an incredibly promising development, and tautoko all schools in their efforts. 

“We see ourselves as an ideal place for schools to come, either for the content we offer, or to find examples of how they might set up their own lessons or inquiries.”  

Māngere Mountain Education Centre

The Māngere Mountain Education Centre sits on the eastern side of the maunga and has been delivering inquiry-led, out-of-classroom learning for more than 10 years. 

Schools can take a guided walk over the maunga and a workshop at the centre. 

Workshops include poi making, kete making, gardening, Māori medicine, stick games and traditional tools, and each is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum in one or more learning areas. 

The centre also hosts a collection of artefacts and displays, illustrating the volcanic formation of the mountain, and the life of its Māori inhabitants since the first migrations from Hawaiki.

Beyond the education centre and teaching gardens, visitors can also explore Kingi Taawhiao’s cottage which was relocated to the site in 2015. It is a building with its own strong significance, touching on many important aspects of Aotearoa’s history, including the Kiingitanga, the NZ Wars, raupatu and colonial government.

The local hapū, Waiohua, centred around Makaurau Marae, are direct descendants of the people who built big, fortified settlements on the Auckland isthmus before the arrival of the Ngāti Whātua from Kaipara in the late 18th Century.

For more information on the or to book a school visit, go to The Māngere Mountain Education Centre website.  

The kāhui ako have supported ākonga to become kaitiaki of Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain.

The kāhui ako have supported ākonga to become kaitiaki of Te Pane o Mataoho Māngere Mountain.

Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories

Timelines have been reset for the curriculum and assessment work programmes, which include Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories.

This is in response to the significant and ongoing impact of Covid-19. Helping teachers, kaiako, learners, whānau and communities manage this disruption, and their wellbeing, is our priority. 

The final curriculum content will now be released during 2022. Schools and kura will be supported to access the resources they need to be ready to teach the new content from 2023. Schools and kura who are well-placed to use the content earlier than 2023 will have the option to do so. 

You can read more about the changes announced to the timeline for Te Takanga o Te Wā and Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 10:10 am, 2 February 2022

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