New carving provides gateway to learning

Issue: Volume 98, Number 4

Posted: 7 March 2019
Reference #: 1H9rvU

A pare (door lintel) featuring Māori legends is helping a kindergarten in Feilding to deliver an empowering curriculum that recognises the mana of all children.

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Whanāu, children and community members gather for the unveiling of the new pare at Manchester Kindergarten.

Whanāu, kaiako and tamariki from Manchester Kindergarten are learning about tikanga (protocol) and pūrākau (legends) through the unveiling of their new whakairo (carving), a pare featuring Papatūānuku.

Teacher Sharon Corkran says the children have shown great interest in the pare. Being able to see their shared history so clearly represented every time they enter the kindergarten is very special. Teaching and learning tikanga is one way of acknowledging the bicultural framing of Te Whāriki and the vision that all children will grow up strong in their identity, language and culture.

“Several tamariki talked about how they like Papatūānuku being there as a significant centrepiece. Some mentioned her hair, one how it is really long, one how it covered the earth. One loves Tāne pushing and separating Ranginui and Papatūānuku.”

Local iwi, Ngāti Kauwhata, were represented by Whaea Lorraine and Papa Anaru, whose support and advice ensured the correct protocols were observed. Tohunga whakairo (master carver) Craig Kawana introduced the pare and explained the meaning of its different parts.

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Tohunga whakairo (master carver) Craig Kawana explains the pare.

A child’s wellbeing is strongly dependent on the wellbeing of those who surround them with love and support.

“Building a stronger relationship with iwi has affirmed the position of mana whenua in the learning community as they took an active role in consulting over the design of the pare with the tohunga whakairo and teachers and through ensuring the unveiling became a celebration, reflective of appropriate tikanga,” Sharon says.

Children took an active role in planning and participating in the pōwhiri with their friends, whānau and kaiako. Learning waiata and pepeha are embedded in the everyday happenings of the kindergarten and tamariki actively lead tikanga practices within the kindergarten. Kaiako can now use the pare to draw pūrākau featuring Papatūānuku, Ranginui, Tāne and Tāwhirimātea more easily into their local curriculum.

“They all certainly knew this was a very special occasion and showed respect by acting appropriately. They listened respectfully to the Māori karakia, then we all sang our own beautiful waiata,” Sharon says. 

What children are saying…

“Granny did it.” – Jack’s grandmother is a significant person in the kindergarten’s learning community and was invited to remove the cover for the huranga (unveiling).

“I liked the singing.” – Charlotte Couper

“I liked hearing them talking.” – Peyton Forbes liked hearing people speaking in te reo Māori.

“I liked when the cover came off and we got to see our carving.” – Ayla Heap

“I like the leaves.” – Evie Quigley liked the kawakawa leaves in the carving. Kawakawa is one of Feilding’s names and the leaves are used in the kindergarten’s pepeha (introduction).

“I liked hearing about Papatūānuku.” – Regan Lang

“I liked the kiwi/pīwakawaka being on it.” – Marley Oak. The kindergarten’s four whānau groups, kiwi, pūkeko, pīwakawaka and tūī, are represented on the pare. 

Designing the whakairo

Papatūānuku, or Mother Earth, is depicted with laminated pāua threaded through her hair and her body blending into mountains. Tāne is shown separating his parents, Papatūānuku and Ranginui, to let light into the world, a story which all the tamariki are familiar with. Another son, Tāwhirimātea, is embodied as the four winds above Papatūānuku. Flanking her are the fishnets which draw so many different people together at the kindergarten. On both ends of the pare are the Ngāti Kauwhata manaia as spiritual guardians.

The design of the pare also includes features of the local community which depict the safety of the learning community – the kawakawa can be used to nurture and support te tinana. The fishnets draw in people, knowledge and food. Each Mata Kupenga has a different pattern on it to represent the children, teachers and parents who come from all over the motu. These features all support the learning community to feel safe and supported as they interact and guide ngā tamariki learning.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:20 am, 7 March 2019

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