Imagine a world where we understand our local history from all perspectives, have empathy with iwi, can practice tikanga in our daily lives and pronounce Māori words correctly.
Soon an entire generation of school children will have a more enlightened view of New Zealand society thanks to the introduction of a new Aotearoa histories curriculum which will coincide with the launch of a special project in Tauranga Moana.
The $1.1m project, called Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana, will be a first for New Zealand and brings local iwi and schools together in a unique and enduring way.
An interactive web-based portal is being developed which will allow everyone to access resources, stories and information specific to their geographic location, as told through the lens of the predominant iwi of that area – Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi or Ngāti Pūkenga.
Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana Kaitiaki Group Chairman, Henk Popping, says the new portal will be used by all 67 schools and early learning centres in the region, from Katikati in the north to Maketu in the south. The curriculum will be layered from ECE to Year 13 across many subjects, including history, English and science, and will also cover protocols such as pepeha and mihi.
“So for example, a teacher at Omanu Primary School will be able to access information, history and stories that are linked to Mauao. Whereas for someone in Otumoetai, it’ll be more related to the stories and history from that side of town because there are some variations between the three iwi. There’s a high level of collaboration with this project but there’s also an agreement to respect the mana and the history of each iwi.”
The idea was first mooted in 2015 among the region’s different Kāhui Ako (Communities of Learning) which are clusters of schools that are close in geographical location or have a common bond such as religious affiliation.
“As we talked, we realised we were all trying to reinvent the wheel,” Henk explains. “People were floundering as to what we do when it comes to curriculum and Te Reo and local histories. With the three iwi in our area that have different histories, how do we do that?
“The idea for the project came from those conversations and questions of ‘what if we get together and see if we can develop something we can all contribute to?’”
Stage one (2020-2021) focused on feasibility and involved extensive consultation with the community, iwi, hapu and marae to ensure everyone was on board. Stage two is now underway which involves developing the portal itself and associated web content, ready for an official launch by October 2023.
BayTrust will contribute $225,000 over three years ($75,000 per year) from its Strategic Partnership Fund, joining TECT and the Ministry of Education who have also provided financial backing.
“This money from BayTrust is a fantastic help and is the last piece of the puzzle we needed to enable this project to continue,” Henk says.
“We’re extremely grateful to these organisations for their support. BayTrust and TECT have come together on such a significant project at a time when we’re all struggling with things like COVID. So it’s like a breath of fresh air of something that we can all work towards – something that’s really positive.”
Web developers are currently being appointed to work with each iwi to develop their individual content and the main portal itself, which will be known as ‘Te Tai Whanake ki Tauranga Moana’.
Once some initial content is ready, a few local schools will begin trialing its use in the classroom in the second half of 2022. “We’re looking to select a number of schools that will be representative of the general school population. We’re talking secondary schools, intermediates, all the full primaries, Māori, mainstream and bilingual so there’s lots of different channels that we’re meeting a demand for.”
Henk says the main focus will be on delivering the new Aotearoa Histories curriculum in schools but as the portal develops, more information on topics such as tikanga, sustainability, science and communication will be added. “It’s pretty much an open-ended project.”
The interactive portal will also be accessible to the general public, so residents or visitors can look up information on local landmarks and suburbs they’re interested in learning more about.
“It will be a tremendous educational resource but will also benefit the wider community. I think it will mean a much more enlightened population and a much more supportive population.”