Our hononga team day began with a welcome from local wahine, Shae Rogan, who talked about the cultural history of Whanganui and how it got its name and told us some local pūrākau emphasising the connection from the Mountains to the Sea.
One such story was about the four mountain warriors who fell in love with the same maiden. When Taranaki lost the battle, he headed out towards the coast where he now resides looking back hoping for one day when he might avenge his defeat. The Whanganui River was formed due to the moving apart from the other mountains.
We also talked about what brings us a sense of calm and grounding and becoming aware of what surrounds us, what elements in nature make us feel connected, and Shae explained why we often represent ancestors of our past like Maui. This was a great start to help ground us in the rest of the day’s activities.
It is always good to connect with local community groups and Castlecliff Coastcare are doing some amazing mahi in restoring the sand dunes at Castlecliff where our hui was based. The group talked to us about the changes of the coastline at Castlecliff over the years, impacts on the sand dunes, and ways in which these can be minimised. We then headed out on a short walk to look at the progress the group has made before we got stuck in to do some planting and mulching and to do our bit with helping out with dune stability.
“The hui reiterated the importance of caring for our coastal areas, even when we live inland,” said Heidi.
In all our regional PD hui we open, experience and explore the Enviroschools resources. In the Enviroschools kit there is a great activity called Tāne and Tangaroa (p 114), which was a perfect activity to delve into as we were at the beach and connected well with the fact that Castlecliff Coastcare have been planting pīngao and spinifex as part of their work. For this activity we split into groups, read the story of Tāne and Tangaroa and then performed a short skit for the rest of the group to show the relationships between the atua.
“The hui was a great way to be introduced to the Enviroschools kaupapa and connecting to myself,” said Christina.
Another great activity to do at the beach was from the Living Landscapes theme area (p 40) called experiencing our atua in our living landscapes – Tuia i runga tuia i raro. We split into pairs and took a walk along the foreshore, taking a moment to connect with all our senses, and observe signs of atua present. When we came together to reflect on our experiences, we all had similar feelings when connecting to atua. We were lucky to feel the heat of Tamanuiterā in the sand (hineone), hear, see and feel the strength of Tangaroa, and feel the gentle breeze from Tāwhirimātea. We finished our day with a beach clean-up doing our bit to make a difference to Hinemoana.
Rowena said, “Our regional team is so spread out geographically, that our Regional Team Hui are invaluable. They create an opportunity to increase our learning and refresh ourselves in the kaupapa; but most importantly to connect with each other in a beautiful part of Aotearoa.”
Banner image: Rowena Brown, Enviroschools facilitator for Manawatu & Rangitikei Region giving instructions for our activity recognising relationships – Tāne and Tangaroa