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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Our kahu pokowhiwhi

One of the great pleasures of being a teacher in Early Childhood Education is the opportunity we have to make truly rewarding and authentic connections with our communities. I first knew of Mandy Sunlight through my appreciation of her work and attendance at many local art openings and activities. In 2012, when our team first started to visualise the creation of a leaver’s cape, I knew that it was time to turn dreaming into a reality; so we invited Mandy and her whānau to Mairtown!

In term three, over a period of eight weeks (and endless hours of her own) Mandy worked as a Kairaranga, coming in each Tuesday to weave with our tamariki, whānau and kaiako to create a kahu pokowhiwhi (shoulder cape). This precious taonga would be used to adorn our tamariki on their last day at Kindergarten.

Each week Mandy guided our skills and understanding of the tikanga of kŌrari and weaving. The children were invited to scratch patterns and symbols into whenu with knives whilst Mandy showed us how to expose muka (the inner fibre of flax), roll miro, and demonstrated traditional methods of dyeing both korari and kuta by using the bark of tanekaha and raurekau.

Mandy was joined by Leah, who came to help with the
creation and weaving. 
Mandy teaches Christine how to roll miro.
Being successful requires lots of skill!

This kumete and patu were made by Tai Tokerau carver Whiu Waata. The patu is carved from onewa and the kumete from a hollowed out totara tree. These taonga are used for pounding tanekaha bark in traditional dying.

The muka on the whenu is dyed a rich brown by the tanekaha
bark. Look how the children's patterns emerge in the colour.

As the weeks unfolded I quickly realized that not only were our children and families gaining a taonga, but most importantly the opportunity to be involved in the transmission of cultural knowledge.

In the past week we have had two of our tamariki leave our Kindergarten whānau and move into their next learning journeys.

Finishing Kindergarten is an important milestone in children’s lives. It is a time of celebration and anticipation. It is also a time of sadness for those who say goodbye.

Along with Mandy and Leah, the hands and hearts of many of our children and families have created more than two hundred whenu that are woven into our kahu pokowhiwhi. Therefore adorning our tamariki in the kahu pokowhiwhi on their last day is a symbol of our love and care.

Traditionally korowai (cloaks) are worn as a mantle of prestige and honour. It will gain mana for the person who wears it.

The Ministry of Educations’ 2013 document Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success reminds us that tamariki Māori do much better when education reflects and values their identity, language and culture.

I’m going to finish this blog with images of David, Tane and Roman. David finished Kindergarten last week and on his last day chose to wear our leavers cape for the entire morning. I believe these images capture the true essence of what our cape represents. These boys were captured performing a spontaneous haka.
My hope is that in future each of our tamariki is filled with a much mana and love when they say goodbye.

Thank you Mandy and Leah for this extraordinary gift of your skills.