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Te reo triumphs at primary school

Year 1 and 2 Fernridge School pupils performing a waiata. PHOTOS/TOM TAYLOR

Story by Tom Taylor

Wairarapa schools have been going above and beyond to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

Fernridge School pupils proudly showcased their work, performing waiata, creating artwork that depicted their pepeha [Māori greeting], and constructing dioramas of Māori legends.

Acting principal Roger Graham said Fernridge teachers used te reo every day, whether during Māori Language Week or not.

“Māori tikanga is part of what we do here at Fernridge,” Graham said. “It’s not just about revitalising it; it’s about making sure that we carry on with it as part of our daily learning.”

Fernridge pupils started every day with a karakia and used te reo within all subjects.

“It’s a bonus that we have staff here that are very in tune with cultural pedagogy and are on a journey of professional development.”

Graham was fluent in te reo and said he would assist other teachers with the language when needed.

Tini Whetu [Year 5-6] pupils displaying their pepeha pictures.
However, he said all teachers were eager to upskill and integrate te reo into their classes.

“A lot of teachers are picking up their own powerful tools of learning in te reo, be it in reading, maths, or writing. What we say here is, ‘We give it a go.’”

A highlight of the week for Graham was Fernridge’s youngest pupils performing Six60’s Pepeha waiata with sign language actions.

Māhuru syndicate [Year 1-2] teacher Andie Collett had been practising the pepeha with her pupils for the past week.

“They picked it up really fast – most of them already knew the song,” Collett said.

Fernridge’s senior pupils had spent a morning painting their pepeha, including the mountains and rivers of their family.

They had also learned about Te Whare Tapu Whā – the four cornerstones of Māori health. These cornerstones covered the roles of physical, spiritual, family, and mental health.

However, pupil Arlo said they had learned about a fifth aspect of health.

“There used to be four, but they were missing the most important one – the connection with the environment.”

Pokapū syndicate [Year 3-4] pupils Lily and Addie show off their taniwha’s cave.
He said because Fernridge was an Enviroschool, the environment played a vital role in everything its pupils did. Meanwhile, Pokapū syndicate [Year 3-4] pupils had learned a story about a taniwha who lived in the Remutaka ranges.

Pupils Eden and Holly had made a diorama of the story.

“There was a taniwha that lived in a cave under the bridges,” Eden said. “Some people went to go swimming, and they had to make sure they didn’t go too close to the taniwha’s cave.”

Pupils Lily and Addie reconstructed the taniwha’s cave – complete with carpeting, wall hangings, and stairs.

They made the cave comfortable so the taniwha would want to spend more time inside rather than harassing people who visited the mountains.

“The taniwha lives with its friends who are also taniwha,” Addie said.

Teacher Indy Johnston said the pupils had interpreted the story of the taniwha imaginatively.

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