Time to teach Whanganuitanga

The time has come for schools within the rohe of Whanganui, to be teaching Whanganuitanga.

Our Whanganuitanga our affiliations to Whanganui and the river is the ultimate expression of our world. Within that, the river is an integral part of our life. It provides physical, cultural, spiritual sustenance. It is our place of recreation.

Our Awa Tupua was both teacher and classroom. We learnt the seasons, the weather, the tides, light and dark, reflection and refraction.

We learnt about volume and capacity and measurement and temperature. We learnt of habitat and species, food sources and supply.

We learnt about the mating and rearing behaviour of Whio (blue duck), grey heron, Kawau Pango (black shag), Pipiwharauroa (shining cuckoo), Kotare and Pukeko, and how they were nourished and sustained in and around her bounteous waters.

Our Whanganuitanga is the foundation from which we build knowledge and is the start of our education in life.

At the start of this month, our iwi celebrated the progression of our iwi education strategy, Nga Kai O te Puku Tupuna, with the release of three distinctive resources.

The books brought together our history, and our unique world view as Whanganui, through the eyes of the 19th century elder, Kerehoma Tuuwhaawhaki; the leadership of ‘He Kohinga Korero’ – the writings of the late Rangitihi Tahuparae, and a collection of our own tribal words and phrases, Kiwaha o Whanganui put together by Che Wilson.

I am so proud of these new developments which are about sharing the treasures of our iwi for our mokopuna to inherit.

To ensure that success is within our reach, we need inspirational teachers and whanau who want the best education for their tamariki to join hands in a concerted effort to improve educational outcomes for our young people.

We know that with improvements in the educational circumstances of Maori, tangible progress will be realised in addressing poverty, improving health, creating economic and employment opportunities and in enhancing overall wellbeing.

How we achieve successful educational outcomes was the subject of a hui in Rotorua last week where more than 37 iwi gathered to canvass iwi educational priorities through iwi partnerships.

Iwi partnerships are nothing new, they have been around for 12 years but momentum is now gathering and my colleague Education Minister Anne Tolley has recognised the importance of working alongside iwi to improve educational outcomes for our people.

Other examples of partnerships include Tuhoe Education Authority developing their own Tuhoetanga Curriculum for implementation in their fifteen kura including mainstream. Similarly Tuwharetoa are currently working on negotiating with all kura in their rohe on the teaching of aspects of Tuwharetoa Tukuihotanga.

Recommendations arising from the hui workshops and covering the broad spectrum of education including early childhood education, te reo Maori in schools, tertiary education, whanau ora and iwi relationships were then presented Mrs Tolley.

To ensure momentum is sustained and progress is made on the recommendations an Iwi Matauranga Roopu will be established in September to work alongside the Education Minister.

The commitment to explore greater freedom to supplement Maori educational outcomes alongside whanau, hapu and iwi models in education was one of our key goals in the Maori Party Policy Manifesto, He aha te mea nui. It is so exciting to be part of the momentum as iwi educators lead us forward, and it is a movement I absolutely endorse.