Teaching online for Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tuia te Matangi

AKO talks to Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tuia te Matangi at Whakatū about how they readied their students for online learning.

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Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tuia te Matangi at Whakatū (Nelson district) has made strong use of computer tablets since it opened in 2012. It is a composite kura (Years 1 to 13), with a roll of 60. It has a strong culture of manaakitanga, a balance of the physical and spiritual to nurture mutually respectful relationships. The tuakana-teina principle includes older children reading to younger ones.

The kura kaupapa was the first to open in Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island, and fulfilled the dreams and vision of the eight iwi of that area, as well as the wider community, said former tumuaki Merita Waitoa-Paki. Because it was a brand new kura, it was able to develop its own culture and curriculum, and it did that by asking not only the parents and teachers, but also the children: what would you like to learn at this school? Waitoa-Paki said, “Me uru te reo o te tamaiti te wā katoa. (The voice of the child should always be included.)”

“Me uru te reo o te tamaiti te wā katoa. (The voice of the child should always be included.)”

Merita Waitoa-Paki

The kura is based on Te Aho Matua, the philosophy and values of the Kura Kaupapa movement but, like others, incorporates the kōrero tuku iho, the stories and legendary characters of the local iwi – Ngāti Kuia, Rangitane ki Wairau, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō (Kurahaupo waka); Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Toarangatira (Tainui waka); Te Atiawa and Ngāti Tama (Tokomaru waka).

Because the tamariki have become so familiar with the use of iPads, the school was well down the track of setting up online learning for children at home during the lockdown. “We got all our iPads out for our kids and started getting packs ready,” says kaiako Sophia Takimoana. “We put all our teaching stuff online, on Google classroom, and had a quick tutorial on how to use it.”

The tumuaki loaded the tablets with the necessary programmes. “They were cleaned, sanitised and given out to the whānau,” says Takimoana. “We were happy when the parents came to get them. They had a very short timeframe to come and get those.”

All whānau collected their iPads quickly, and there were only two tamariki that had not been online yet, due to the whānau awaiting wifi connection. “Teachers are in contact with the tamariki and parents,” explains Takimoana. “We’ve also got a Facebook page and Messenger for our separate classes. So you know who’s been online and doing the work and who hasn’t!”

“You know who’s been online and doing the work and who hasn’t!”

Sophia Takimoana

Current tumuaki Anthony de Thierry says some of the issues the kura has faced relating to use of the iPads are building staff capability to make effective use of them; allowing tamariki to facilitate their own use of the technology; and whānau reservations about over-reliance on the devices. Also, the devices are over seven years old and overdue for renewal. “Consequently, we are actually not as well-equipped as we want to be,” says de Thierry. “However, students have these devices and that may assist them at home – only time will tell.”

Takimoana herself is used to working online at home – she’s studying towards a Poutuarongo Whakaakoranga, a teaching degree from Te Wānanga o Raukawa (Otaki). While the noho has been cancelled, the course will continue. She expects that hui rumaki reo will be held by Zoom, and that she will be able to interact with her pukenga that way.

Kaiako Sophia Takimoana

“That’s what keeps most of my daytime and evening actually busy,” she says. “I don’t know how many times you can clean the house, dust the house, and wash or whatever. For me, it’s trying to keep myself busy, checking in with my kids, making sure they’re okay.”

Housework and caring are time-consuming jobs at home for Takimoana, as she has her daughter, daughter’s partner, a mokopuna and a brother living with her. “That’s us in our household. My brother is getting really agitated, because he’s so used to working every day. Just trying to keep him busy is [hard].”

While she is concerned for one of her daughters, who lives in Nelson with five children aged six and under, Takimoana also sees the lockdown as an opportunity to reflect more deeply about life, set goals, and connect more deeply with whānau.

Takimoana also sees the lockdown as an opportunity to reflect more deeply about life, set goals, and connect more deeply with whānau.

“One thing it’s made me think, in this time of isolation, is about what I want out of life, and what I want for my kids and my mokos. I said to my kids, reflect on what we want in life and what’s important to us. This has definitely brought a new meaning to me.”

Takimoana encouraged her daughters to make portfolios of images and words about what was important to them, what their dreams were and how they are going to realize them. “The girls have put up a couple of pictures of their visual boards, which is so cool to see!”

Sharing the experience of the crisis has also deepened her connection to her siblings in the Bay of Plenty as they communicate on phone and online. “They’re all just wanting to be face-to-face, but I know we can’t.”

As a resourceful leader within her community and within her home, Takimoana knows that she is fortunate, and spares a thought for others:

“I’m the lucky one in the household; I’ve got work to do. Whether it’s kura work, or my own assignments that I need to get out to wānanga,” she says. “It’s good to be busy, especially at this time. I’d hate to think what other people are going through when they’ve got nothing to do, and no-one else to talk to in their bubble.”

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