Over the past 5 weeks we have had the pleasure of having Israel (Izy) Tahere join our team whilst completing his final teaching practicum. Amongst other skills and talents Izy has shared with us at kindergarten, he has also made use of our expansive pile of manuka to introduce the children to Mau Rākau.
Mau Rākau means to ‘bear a weapon’ and is traditionally learning about sacred Maori warfare and taonga in particular, weapons such as taiaha, patu and mere.
For young children introducing the methods of Mau Rākau through a combination of stick activities and physical challenges helps them to develop confidence and competence in body awareness and fundamental movement skills whilst learning and exploring through traditional tikanga Maori assessment.
Interacting in the spirit of ako (reciprocal learning), traditionally tukana/teina, Izy first coached the children through simple instructions in mau taiaha.
Mau rakau is a traditional martial art which develops both weaponry and physical skills.
Tuakana-teina refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) and a younger (teina) person and is specific to teaching and learning
in the Māori context.
As the children’s confidence and repertoire of skills developed, so too did the ‘possibilities’ of use with the rakau (sticks).
Co-ordinating balance and posture and developing discipline in movement
These next images show the children using rakau on the ground to create an obstacle challenge for jumping, hopping, and running and also getting their heart rates pumping!
As the children jumped between the sticks they chanted in reo, and made connections to the earth "whenua, awa, whenua, awa, whenua"
By being physically involved in the game alongside the children, Izy set the stakes high, this encouraged on-going determination (Hiringa) and persistence for some our children.
Look at David as he follows Izy’s lead and jumps from a press up crouch across the sticks. Pai rawa!
Mau Rākau is not only an innovative addition to our curriculum but more importantly a culturally relevant art form that empowers the children with ways of knowing and being maori by nurturing wairua, mana and kaupapa maori.