In the corner of our Clayton Park Kindergarten playground stood a ‘wharenui’ built long before our current teaching team came together. Over the years the walls of our ‘wharenui’ came down and our wharenui became a ‘waharoa’.
We, the current Kindergarten team, had a collective dream we talked about often, of decorating this structure so that it celebrated the cultures and values of our kindergarten community.
We wondered how to ensure that tikanga was in place. Because we are situated in Manurewa and just a stones-throw from Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa, it was important that we “did things right”. Seeking advice from the people of Manurewa Marae and other mana whenua representatives, we were reassured that, as the structure was in our playground, we could carry out this project in any way we wished. We were advised to “make connections to who we are in whatever ways felt the most meaningful to us”.
‘Sustaining cultural practices safely by amplifying indigenous voices is part of our ongoing commitment to the mana of this whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.’ – Enviroschools Guiding Principle, Te Ao Māori
It was important to us that we involved our whānau and our tamariki in the project. Kaiako displayed different Māori and Pasifika designs, putiputi and local manu to the tamariki. From this hui our tamariki chose the different designs that they wanted on our waharoa.
An initial collaboration with the adjacent school didn’t work out the way we had hoped, but we were determined not to give up. Then Roman and his whānau started attending the kindergarten. His artist mum, Stephanie, and his dad Brad were enthusiastic supporters of our dream and after a hui with our kaiako, Steph created a plan from the design ideas she received from the kindergarten.
The designs reflected our kaupapa of environmental sustainability and the strong connection that Māori and indeed all those who live in Aotearoa have with the land and the sea. Stephanie referred to the local pūrākau significant to Manurewa – the story of the kite of Tamapahore / Te manu aute o Tamapahore.
‘They feel connected to the whenua and support each other as a learning community to create meaningful change and hopeful action.’ – Enviroschools Guiding Principle, Empowered Learners
Prior to the work taking place, we consulted with our kindergarten whānau about the design. The feedback was very positive as whānau could immediately recognise how it connected to our kindergarten kaupapa and our community.
Tamariki were involved every step of the way – they were consulted about the artwork which was to adorn the waharoa and painted many of the elements.
This has created a powerful sense of ownership for our waharoa both from tamariki and from our kindergarten whānau. It has given us a wonderful space to enjoy and brings more meaning to our sharing of pūrākau o Manurewa with our tamariki.
“Our waharoa journey continues as we are in the process of honouring other cultures within our kindergarten community by representing them on our waharoa.” – Clayton Park Kindergarten team
Banner image: Celebrating the completion of the project.