Tāku Pepeha


In Aotearoa this week it is .

I have been working on my pepeha for quite a while now. Once I recorded it, I wondered if it was totally accurate. I am a fluent speaker of Samoan and often I can hear a sentence in Māori and know that it makes sense because of the familiarity of sounds and word order.

However with my pepeha, I was a little hesitant. I turned to my  twitter buddies and put the word out there. Straight away help was on hand and @temihinga responded immediately and helped with a final proof read. Yes I had several corrections to make. She also explained why and this helped me immensely.  I had recently met Te Mihinga at Nethui face to face and had heard her speak.Alex also responded. She had presented with me on TeachMeetNZ.

In my Samoan culture we do not have a Pepeha but we do have a faalupega. I know when I was teaching in a Samoan bilingual unit, I had the children learn their Faalupega. In Samoa when reciting our Faalupega, we must know where we come from and who the chief and the talking chiefs are in our family. If we are really clever we will know all the titles of our chiefs and we will also know all the different villages we associate with because of family connections. My training in Faalupega was it was like a ripple in the pond. I am like the centre of the ripple and then I move out. As I learn more about myself, I add that. It is like reciting genealogy. Place markers are also part of Faalupega. At the same time the chiefs are place markers too because they are associated with families and places.

With Māori it is knowing where you come from. At our school, we teach our children our school pepeha and have been relearning it each year during Matariki. This year I wanted to add a little extra and see if I can say my pepeha and include my Samoan markers. My next step is to memorise our school whakataukī. The neat thing about recording yourself is that you can listen and rewind your learning. By hearing our own voice often enough the flow of the words stick in our memories and soon they are part of our active oral schema.

By learning my pepeha, it reminds me of the challenges of learning another language. In the registered teacher’s criteria learning my pepeha covers cultural responsiveness and language maintenance. But it also covers acknowledging the place of Te Reo in our curriculum.  Samoan language and who we are are indescribably linked. Just like Te Reo and the people of this land. There is such a connection to the land it almost comes across as one. The people are the land and the land is the people.

In order to learn our school pepeha, I needed to learn our areas history. I visited the maunga mentioned and I visited the awa. I researched our local history. Over the years I have worked with the children on both our school’s history, its surrounding area and our pepeha. As a school we visit our local marae of Ōrākei and we reconnect with Ngāti Whātua every two years.

My challenge to all educators is learn your school’s pepeha and teach your children how to say it too. Use Matariki as a time to revisit your pepeha and to learn a little more about the area that your school is in. Use Māori language week as a celebration of how much reo you have learnt over the past year and a commitment to how much more you will learn in the coming year.

Being heard and the right to influence others

‘Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.’ Sir James Henare, 1985.


Matariki signals the dawn of the Maori New Year and this year begins 20 June and ends on the 19th of July. Matariki is a time for reflection and where we are up to on our learning journey. Matariki is about whanaungatanga and the chance for our school community to come together to plan, collaborate and celebrate this important event. Matariki  is a time to retell stories and to revisit traditional games and crafts. Matariki is a time to set new goals and make new connections. Matariki is a time to focus on Te Reo and the upcoming Maori Language week that begins on the 29th of June.  I can tell Matariki is close in season when our school centenary tree loses its leaves. I see Tui making a regular appearance around school. They come for the black  whauwhaupaku berries and for the the ripe Puriri fruit. At our school the rainbow is a regular sight and we get the torrential rains just like when it rains in Samoa. Often the mornings are misty and our grounds become soggy so we have to look for alternative lunchtime activities for the children. Our school gardens are in the last stages of harvest and the gardening club plan for the next cycle of planting. The children are usually excited because it is also at this time that they prepare for our annual Matariki disco.

Sometimes events can suddenly happen to make you sit up and take notice.

Friday was no exception. We had an interesting day as a flow of speakers came through our school as part of early Matariki celebrations.

While the school was at assembly the first groups arrived and were greeted by our principal and deputy principal in a whakatau because our speakers and workshop presenters were immediate and extended family members of our school and local community.

Eilleen our deputy principal and of Te Rarawa descent organised the day as part of the Te Whanau Kotahitanga Maori enrichment programme and we were given a shared doc to choose activities that we could take some of our children to. Two relievers were brought in to tag teachers in and out of class so that they could take part and they could take some children from their class to attend the planned sessions.

During this same time our senior school had their Friday Discovery day where several children were part of the planned Masterchef cook off and today was their semifinals. At lunch time I had my usual Travelwise lunchtime group meeting where I had aimed to complete work for an upcoming global sharing celebration that my group are involved in as part of the ‘Week in the Life Project.’ We have worked towards this event for nearly two terms as part of preparation for an experience for learning student project I have planned to launch in terms 3 & 4.

The challenge I had is that several of my Travelwise children were involved in all three events. Sometimes events like this can throw all planning out the window. So after speaking with the children in the morning I readjusted on the day and worked with only one Travelwise student instead of my ten  to get a model up for the rest of my group.  Over the next week I will find time to support the others as they complete their part to share with our global audience via skype over the next few week.

As I worked with my usual English Language groups to complete work the computer system played up. I wanted to complete a piece of digital art with a few children but did not finish this. In between children I attended a few sections  of the Matariki activities. I attended three activities in the middle block. In the afternoon, I had agreed to share my journey about receiving my malu and missed seeing the other Matariki activities then too. I made sure that I finished a little earlier so that guests who had come to hear me would be back in time for the whaikōrero with Eilleen.

Our Maori students and teacher need acknowledgement of who they are and under the Treaty of Waitangi, they have the right to come together to celebrate their uniqueness with role models and senior members of their community. Friday was no exception because at our school we had a range of powerful role models join us for the day to mentor, guide and share their gifts with some of our students. On Friday our Maori teacher and students took charge of the day. They had their voices heard and had the opportunity to influence others.

So on reflection Matariki is about whanaungatanga and the chance for the whole school to come together to plan, collaborate and celebrate  this important event on the Maori calendar. We have focussed on whanaungatanga in the past with great success as can be seen shared on our school Matariki wiki. I also believe that an event like this allows us to reflect where we are up to on our commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Other Links

To find out more about Matariki, visit our digital story on Issuu .

To find out about whanaungatanga visit our Matariki Wiki.

To find out about Maori enrichment at Newmarket School, visit Te Whanau Kotahitanga’s blog.

To read more about the Treaty of Waitangi visit ‘Waitangi Tribunal claim’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/maori-language-week/waitangi-tribunal-claim, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Jul-2014