Waitangi ki te ao: Taking Waitangi to the world

Issue: Volume 99, Number 11

Posted: 16 July 2020
Reference #: 1HA94F

While nothing can completely replace a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and museums, schools around Aotearoa can now visit virtually, in real time.

Each year thousands of people flock to Waitangi on 6 February to celebrate and gain an understanding of our shared history.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds education manager Monika Kern believes it is ‘absolutely vital’ for people in New Zealand to know about our past to understand the present and make informed decisions for the future.

“We can’t forget what happened – the positives, the negatives – because they have shaped who we are. Some of us have grown up with different ways of understanding history, but if our young people can get a really well-rounded understanding, Aotearoa will be a more exciting place in the future with people who are grounded in our past, standing on their turangawaewae and moving forward,” she says.

Events that shaped our nation

The education team at Waitangi have been offering virtual visits to schools since 2017, an option for schools unable to make a trip to Northland due to distance and/or cost. The Covid-19 lockdown provided the opportunity to redevelop the approach and develop new content for schools, says Monika. 

“They can’t quite replace you standing on the place where your ancestor might have signed the Treaty, or where an ancestor might have stood as part of the Māori Battalion in front of Te Whare Rūnanga before they went off to war in Europe. We can’t replace that, but we can support teachers by giving them a Waitangi perspective on some of the important events of our history.”

Monika says it is increasingly important to know about the people and events that shaped our nation.

“We call the Waitangi Treaty Grounds the birthplace of our nation as we know it. It sets us up for the laws, government and kind of society that we have got today,” says Monika.

“Especially in the current climate where there are a lot of discussions around the world about racism and equality, it is really important that we confront our own history to see what we can learn from it and how we can make changes going forward in the future.” 

Virtual visits

The new virtual 45-minute visits are for Years 6-13 and cover the three most frequently requested topics: Early Contact, Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi and New Zealand Wars. It’s hoped that schools will take advantage of the learning opportunities throughout the year.

“We’ve had problems in the past in that normally in Term 1, everyone studies Te Tiriti and wants to have a virtual visit to Waitangi, and we have all the tourists (domestic and overseas) in the museum at the same time. 

“Doing the virtual visits at other times allows us to film at a time when there’s nobody in front of a particular taonga or image. The visits are done in real time, we show videos or images as well as taonga – the educator is on Zoom and we encourage students to ask questions. 

“Included in those presentations, we’ve got interactive activities embedded in the Google Slides. The children can contribute and share what they know such as:  Who do you think was the first person who came to Aotearoa? What do you understand about the Treaty? Would you have signed it?”

Rich learning experience

Teacher Melody McCombe and two Year 8 classes from Christchurch South Intermediate were involved in two virtual webinars involving several classes from around Aotearoa in 2018. 

“We had it on a big data projector and they walked around Waitangi and talked about some of the exhibits and the students got to see the actual signatures and artefacts related to the Treaty - that was really important. To actually see the documents and the place where the chiefs had signed made their learning so much richer,” she remembers.

As a result of the experience, the students made posters to share with others as well as writing in their reflective journals about their developing understanding of the Treaty and its place in New Zealand’s history.

This was all because they learnt so much from the artefacts and stories, she says.

“For example, they learnt that some of the chiefs signed with their moko, demonstrating their mana on the document. They also learned about a woman named Kahe, who was famous for swimming 10 kilometres with a baby on her back, who signed the Treaty. It was those sorts of stories that really captured the kids and made it meaningful for them”.

Taonga of resources

Virtual visits are just one way the team at Waitangi supports learning. The website Waitangi(external link) is a rich resource of images, stories, text of the Treaty in English and Māori, teacher resources and links to Raranga Matihiko, a programme led by Te Papa and funded by the Ministry of Education under the Digital Technologies for All Equity fund.  (See Weaving Digital Futures(external link), article on Education Gazette website.)

“Our main business at Waitangi for many years was delivering site visits, field trips, greeting groups of teachers and children on the grounds. With the encouragement of the Ministry of Education and through Raranga Matihiko, we have been developing more teacher resources – there are currently three larger units on the website and we plan to develop more of them,” says Monika.

“Teachers will be expected to incorporate New Zealand history into their teaching in the future. It’s just one of the support mechanisms we can provide and hopefully, 10–15 years down the track, our young people will know lots about New Zealand history and make changes to society based on a really thorough understanding,” she says.

Museums collaborate

While several museums are part of Raranga Matihiko, Monika is also excited by the potential of a revitalised group of community-based educators. She is co-chair of Te Pū Tiaki Mana Taonga: Association of Educators Beyond the Classroom, which hopes to collaborate more in the future.

“We can’t tell a story from the Hawke’s Bay, but our colleagues there know, so we could connect with a local educator before a class comes here,” says Monika. 

“We could even Zoom in the local educator talking about their local stories to do with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

“We hope that as a network we can actually strengthen each other and help evolve our practice. Museums can be lonely places – we have a team of five in the education department at Waitangi, but other places may have only one person and we want to be able to support those people to lift their practice as well.”   

For more information about teacher resources, virtual and real school visits to Waitangi, email Liz Kilby at education@waitangi.org.nz.

Ways to find out more about Virtual Visits to Waitangi 

Sign up now(external link) for the newsletter to receive the articles directly in your inbox.

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

Posted: 2:15 pm, 16 July 2020

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts