The Power of Pūrākau at Waitati School

| By Enviroschools Otago team

Rakinui and Papatūānuku embrace.

Pou that tell the creation Te Wai Pounamu pūrakau of Papatūānuku, Takaroa and Rakinui will soon adorn the Orokonui Estuary walkway that leads through to te taiao where native trees both young and old adorn the space.

Ko au te whenua, Ko whenua te au – this whakataukī about our place in the environment has been an important tāoka at Waitati School, north of Ōtepoti/Dunedin as they continue on the Enviroschools journey. The culture at the school is one where the community cares for the environment, and a special pūrākau is bringing that idea to the fore.

When we think of the whenua, we are reminded of the atua of our area. Waitati School embraced the creation pūrākau tuku iho ki Puketeraki Marae. Rua McCallum, the Kaitoko of the marae taught the students and the staff the pūrākau of Papatūānuku, Takaroa, Rakinui, and their tamariki. Puketeraki has also included this pūrākau in the booklet ‘Te Pātaka Kōrero o Araiteuru,’ produced by people of the marae.

One of the tiles to surround the pou.

The story has become a powerful basis from which to build knowledge and perspective. Kaiako in different areas of the school have used interesting ways to share the story, from sand trays, to drama, and pottery. The students are given space to engage with the creative process and deepen their understanding. From there they can re-tell and share with their friends and whānau some of the amazing things happening at their kura.



Student’s creative interpretation of pūrakau of Papatūānuku, Takaroa, Rakinui, and their tamariki.

The pottery studio has been a popular and well used resource from the school. It came about through community ideas and fundraising. The kura was fortunate to have local potter David Milne come and assist the students. They have made tiles to go alongside the Pou that show different aspects of the story. This has also allowed students to be empowered in re-telling and creating in their own ways. The pou will be placed alongside native trees, that former students themselves have planted. Environmental education is strong at Waitati. It is a place where sustainability is not a tick box but a culture.

Ko au te whenua, Ko whenua te au.





Banner image: Working with uku/clay in the Waitati School Ceramics Studio Mahi ā-ringa. (banner image)