Schools teach Matariki

Published date24 June 2022
Publication titleBay of Plenty Times
Taumata School in Pyes Pā celebrated with a dawn ceremony for Matariki yesterday

Principal Genavier Fuller said dawn was chosen because it “relates to the kaupapa (purpose) of Matariki and that the Matariki Cluster is best viewed at dawn”.

She said more than 500 members of the school community attended and gathered “around steaming pots of soup”.

“After hearing about the various stars and collectively reciting a karakia (prayer), we lifted the lids so that the steam would travel upwards to the atua (ancestor or God).”

Fuller said the students had “embraced the focus on Matariki and are now helping to grow a broader understanding with their whānau”.

“It is part of their vocabulary and they are making connections to the world of Māori.”

Year 8 student ambassadors Gracie Erskine-Shaw and Jess Coyne said they had enjoyed learning about Matariki.

Gracie said she had learned Matariki was about “reflection and remembering” as well as thinking about the future.

She said the “most amazing part” of what they had learned “was our dawn service, where we had a range of cultures from our community coming together to connect and celebrate”.

Jess said she had learned about the different stars in the cluster and how “they all have a role to play”.

She said her family had celebrated by coming to the dawn service, “and we will be spending time together over the weekend”.

The school’s te ao Māori leader, teacher Dan Priest, said the students had learned about Matariki through a range of activities, including pūrākau (storytelling), art projects, drama, music, physical education, kai, and dance.

“As a school in Aotearoa New Zealand, we want to ensure all we do celebrates the bicultural nature and uniqueness of our country.

“A ceremony and focus such as this supports the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and most recently the Aotearoa New Zealand history curriculum.”

Te Manawa o Pāpāmoa Primary School principal Shane Cunliffe said making Matariki a public holiday was “an authentic opportunity to celebrate coming together”.

He said the holiday lets people connect “in a way that people don’t always have time for”.

Te Manawa will be holding a breakfast event on Thursday, to “share some kai” and connect with whānau and the school’s wider community.

“We have got such a diverse community here ... so the challenge is to bring a shared plate...

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