Knowing our stories – Mairtown Kindergarten

Anne’s pukapuka, recently updated and reprinted.

In 2022, Anne Bawden (kaiako) received the Karahipi Tahua o Dean Martin scholarship. Anne’s scholarship purpose was to use the pūtea for time to build stronger connections with a kaumatua of Ngati Kahu o Torongae and deepen her knowledge and understanding of the ‘life story’ of Parihaka. She also intended to revisit the story of Whangārei Te Terenga Paraōa, a pukapuka she had created as a student. Parihaka is the maunga and Hatea the awa of Mairtown kindergarten. Mairtown’s programme includes visits to these places as part of its weekly ngahere programme and Enviroschools kaupapa. (see below for Anne’s more detailed discussion).

Through her new learning, and guidance from kaumatua Winiwini Kingi of Ngāti Kahu o Torongare, Anne adjusted both Mairtown’s pepeha and her original story. She then had the beautiful pukapuka Whangārei: Te Terenga Paraōa republished. Anne also made connections with the Patuharakeke te Iwi Trust, and early this month organised for a very special visit for Mairtown tamariki and kaiako.

 “On Wednesday 5th June, Mairtown hosted some very special guests. Ari, Holly and Alyssa, from The Patuharakeke te Iwi Trust arrived, bringing with them very special taonga to share with our tamariki. They arrived at whānau time, and were greeted with a mihi whakatau, welcoming them into our whānau for the day, and sharing our pepeha. Ari responded, telling us that they and the taonga they had with them share a connection with our pepeha and us; through the name of our harbour, Whangārei: Te Terenga Paraōa.” – Anne Bawden

Welcoming Ari, Holly and Alyssa who brought with them the taonga Rangimaria,

Ari, Holly and Alyssa brought with them the taonga, Rangimaria, the skeleton of a pilot whale who had beached at Uretiti in 2016, along with the tooth and vertebra of a sperm whale. Patuharakeke are guardians of Rangimaria. The whānau who named her chose her name to acknowledge a tupuna of theirs from Te Kao.

During the visit, Mairtown tamariki and kaiako learned more about the cultural and spiritual significance of whales to Māori, and how the people of Te Tai Tokerau serve as guardians and caretakers of beached whales in their rohe. They utilise nature’s process of cleaning the bones by using beach burial sites.

After kōrero, the bones of Rangimaria were laid out and tamariki and kaiako worked together to reassemble her skeleton.

“We are so grateful to Ari, Alyssa and Holly for sharing the precious taonga of Rangimaria and the parāoa with our kindergarten. Thanks to them, we have had the privilege of building our own special connection with these awesome creatures, who are a special part of our environment, history, and with our support, our future too.” – Anne Bawden


Getting to understand the size and significance of the skeleton.

Learning about and building connections with pilot whales.











“Through exploration and discovery, tamariki develop their knowledge, language, care, and creativity. Hands-on experiences such as our tamariki enjoyed today, support a growing connection with and sense of belonging in their own environment and community. They inspire an emergent sense of tiaki for the wellbeing of the amazing creatures living alongside us in te taiao. In time, our tamariki will become the decision leaders and change makers, nurturing the physical and social environment of our places, our communities, and our world.” – Anne Bawden

Visiting the ngahere as part of their regular nature programme.

Background kōrero from Anne:

Learning in, about and for their awa.

The main inspiration for me in applying for the Karahipi Tahua o Dean Martin stemmed from spending time in the ngahere with tamariki on Nature programme, and during their play at kindergarten, then reflecting on the consistent interests within play around dinosaurs, volcanoes and battle play. I knew that Parihaka (the maunga we enjoy Nature programme at the foot of, look at from kindergarten and acknowledge in our centre pepeha) began its life as a volcano, was once a place where Moa walked, was a paramount Pā and the site of significant battle in pre-European times.

Landslides/slips caused by weather events and the impact of introduced pests offer ongoing challenges to the ecological health of Parihaka. Through their Enviroschools learning, our tamariki are supported to offer tiaki to the maunga, now and into the future.

It seemed to me that the ‘life story’ of Parihaka had elements that resonated with many of our tamariki, but I was not aware of anywhere that story was recorded. I had an interest, but do not whakapapa to the maunga, so first needed to establish a relationship, gain knowledge and hopefully permission to record this story.

During my teaching study, I created a pukapuka about the names Whangārei; Te Terenga Paraoa, and I also wished to make corrections to that and republish, creating a new resource.

Experiences that help deepen a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Over the last year I have built a relationship with a kaumatua of Ngāti Kahu o Torongare. We participated together, along with Nature programme tamariki, in a water sampling project with Wai Tuwhera o te Taiao, and the results of this taught us so much about what lives in this awa at the foot of Parihaka (regularly visited during Nature programme), and its current health.

We learned that our pepeha needed revision. A suggested version was shared by the kaumatua, discussed with the original gifters of the pepeha, and then adopted and reintroduced within curriculum. New actions to fit the kupu were introduced with the assistance of a visiting MoE representative, as I was not able to access that knowledge within our community.

I spent time researching the early days of Parihaka, and learning about Māori life on the maunga with the kaumatua, who gave his approval for me to record this story.

I have shared early drafts with whānau and kaiako in kindergartens and primary environments. I have also shared in oral story form with tamariki during Nature programme within the environment itself, which has resulted in recognition of features, types of rock etc, and also them sharing their knowledge with whānau.

What a big back bone a sperm whale has!

As a result of the learning I have done and shared, the understanding, personal connection with Parihaka and sense of who has walked the paths we walk now has deepened for me. Having the relationship also means we at Mairtown Kindergarten, are able to seek better understanding about appropriate use of kupu/tikanga within curriculum.

The interest in making a resource like this available is evident, and a variety of forms have been suggested.

The ‘Whangārei: Te Terenga Parāoa’ story has been edited and republished and made available.

I made contact with representatives of Patuharakeke Iwi, who hold a pilot whale skeleton and parāoa bones for education purposes, and they offered to bring those to kindergarten to share with us and talk about these creatures who once swam in our harbour.

Foot notes:

Patuharakeke are a composite hapū descended from most major iwi groups in the north. These include Ngati Wai, Ngāpuhi nui tonu, Ngāti Whātua and Te Uri o Hau. Patuharakeke affiliate to a very large number of hapū including Te Uriroroi, Te Koiwi, Te Akitai, Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Korora, Ngāti Taka, Ngāti Hine, Te Waiariki, Te Parawhau and many others.

Anne has printed enough pukapuka ‘Whangārei: Te Terenga Paraōa’ for all kindergartens in Whangārei to have a copy. Please contact Anne at Mairtown Kindergarten if you would like to include the book ‘Whangārei: Te Terenga Paraōa’ in your resources. Copies are currently available and may incur a printing cost.

Ngā mihi mahana Anne and Mairtown for your leadership and learning which has resulted in increased knowledge and connection across your community of learners.