Tāwhirimātea: Atua associated with the wind with qualities of change, being gentle, fresh, brisk, stormy.
Teachers from our Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centres are always enthusiastic attendees at our regular district cluster workshops, so it was not surprising that we had bumper attendance at our recent regional ECE wānanga. Most of our Facilitators work with Enviroschools from 3 education sectors so sometimes support primary, secondary, and ECE centres. Consequently, many cluster workshops are quite generic and aimed at all schooling levels and have a community approach. Each year we like to run some ECE – specific hui, and holding a regional hui is a great way for this to happen and to hear from many centres about their mahi.
57 teachers from 13 early childhood education centres attended our 2020 regional ECE wānanga during the October term break. These teachers were involved in the initial hui content planning. They were sent a survey asking them to indicate which aspects of the Enviroschools kaupapa they would be most interested in exploring at the hui. Survey results identified Water/ Wai (Water of Life being one of the Enviroschools Theme Areas) as a key area of interest, along with Māori Perspectives (one of the Enviroschools Guiding Principles).
The wānanga was hosted by one of our Green-Gold Enviroschools, Manchester Street School, in Feilding. The day began with an informal whakatau with karakia and waiata from students from the three enviro-groups at Manchester Street School, and supported by Dicey Cribb, who leads the school’s Mātauranga Māori group. We were so impressed to see so many students, about 30 of them, come into school during their holidays to help support our event. Dicey talked about the tikanga and kaupapa Māori that they integrate into the school day. This welcome and kōrero helped set the scene for the day together.
Participants discussed the concepts of Atua Māori and looked for associations and qualities within this Enviroschool landscape. Each group was encouraged to find their atua displayed (around the venue), learn about the different attributes/characteristics of that atua, explore the school environment then discuss where their atua could be experienced throughout this wāhi (place).
Teachers observed the Enviroschools Guiding Principles in action, while walking around the vibrant learning environment of Manchester Street School. They also had the opportunity to talk with the new entrant teachers from the school. The Manchester Street teachers have strong links with two ECE centres adjacent to the school. One centre is an Enviroschool and the other is about to come on board. These centres are natural feeders to the school, so we talked about the transition of tamariki of these centres into the school through an Enviroschools lens.
The Enviroschools Water of Life Theme Area activity ‘I am a teardrop’ with a twist was facilitated by Maddy, our Kindergarten Facilitator. Teachers looked at how they can use natural resources and everyday items around the centre to provide sound and colour to build further creativity into a story or poem. Linton Kindergarten talked about their water conservation practices which were developed when Palmerston North had a particularly dry summer and the city council were asking families to conserve their water. The centre has two water tanks, one for watering the gardens and making worm shake, and another for water play in the sand pit.
We originally planned to hold our wānanga at a local kindergarten but, as registrations from teachers kept increasing each week, we decided to respond by providing a bigger venue to accommodate everyone comfortably. However, with Feilding Kindergarten being close by, we were able to visit and hear how they wove the Enviroschools Programme into their centre life.
In a last-minute change of plan due to centre staff illness, Facilitator Rowena Brown ran an introduction to te Māra Hūpara (traditional Māori games), and the teachers had a go at a tī Rākau activity which they could play with their tamariki. We are keen to bring Harko Brown (an expert on traditional Māori games and play) down to our region for a more formal session on te Māra Hūpara, so this activity was just a wee taster for teachers.
“We love coming to Enviroschools events like this. It is always a great opportunity to network with other teachers, teachers from early childhood, teachers from the primary sector as well, and to take back great ideas to our kindergarten.” – Sarah Goacher, Linton Kindergarten
“Visiting different services and centres is interesting, and it is really beneficial to our centre that we attend these as we come back inspired and excited about new ideas and we can pass that on to our whānau and tamariki and its reflected in our teaching, in our practice, and our environment at Linton.” – Sherrie Gilberd, Linton Kindergarten
Building an understanding of Māori Perspectives and knowledge through the Atua Māori, experiential activities and games can enrich and deepen our engagement with the environment and connection to each other and provide unique insights alongside contemporary views. We mihi to staff at Manchester Street School who came in during their holidays prior to the hui to tidy the venue and put up a beautiful display for us.
Banner Image: Manchester Street School Enviro-group students and Dicey Cribb, who leads the school’s Mātauranga Māori group, welcome attendees.
Video clip interview of Parkland Kindergarten teachers about the event.
Regional Coordinator Sarah Williams talks about the event.