All Year 9 classes had the opportunity in 2017, to experience a powhiri on a marae, and to visit a wharenui and hear the stories behind it.
We were fortunate that Te Whatumanawa Māoritanga o Rehua Marae in Springfield Rd. was able to accommodate us in four groups of two classes and their teachers each time.
On each visit, we assembled on the lawn outside the wharenui, waiting for the karanga to call us in.
Inside, students supported the korero with their waiata, then heard the stories of the wharenui and the reasons for the carvings and decorative panels.
One of the kaumatua spoke movingly of learning the reo for the first time once he was 73, and what that meant to him. After the ceremony, we moved into the wharekai to share food together.
I was impressed with the respectful way students listened to the talks, often in a language they did not understand, and how they co-operated to look after their hosts and clean up the wharekai after the morning tea.
These visits by Year 9 classes are a new initiative for us based on requests from our curriculum review last year, and the beginning of stronger relationships with the tangata whenua in our city.