The children began by looking at photographs of korowai, traditionally worn to honour a person’s mana and dignity, and discussed what they would like to make. For them it was important that their cloak would hold the love or aroha of the hands that created it, and the aroha of their ancestors. They wanted it to be worn on special occasions like birthday celebrations so they could be reminded of being surrounded by love and strength.
Contributions of feathers, paua shells, cockle shells, pumice, flax leaves and toi toi, were offered from many families. These were sewn on to the hession base according to the design the children had made and members of the wider community came in to weave their aroha and blessing into the cloak.
It was an important aspect that real hands made and stitched the cloak. It has been made to last so that the story can be kept alive for new children as they are welcomed to Little Earth Montessori.
As she helped make it, Bryn, 4, spoke strongly about how the korowai’s love reminded her that the love of her deceased great-grandmother is all around her. Kate, 4, shared some photographs and a letter from her grandfather, who wears a korowai on special occasions. “Ours is a bit like a touchstone,” says teacher Susanne Hindley. “When a child wears it there is a connection with a deeper knowing.”
Little Earth held an afternoon tea to celebrate the cloak’s completion and unveiling. It is named Te Korowai Manaaki o te Whānau Whānui, which means the embracing cloak of the extended family of Little Earth Montessori.
Little Earth Montessori is part of the national Enviroschools programme, and is recognised as being highly-committed and dedicated to sustainability practices.
“Enviroschools reminds us to keep questioning. To share understandings and knowledge. To be aware of our connection to each other and to the universe.” – Susanne Hindley, Little Earth Montessori.