by Becs Thomas, Assistant Head Teacher, Tai Tamariki Kindergarten
The experience of having Tai Tamariki Kindergarten children’s kākahu displayed in Kahu Ora Living Cloaks has been a wonderful learning journey for our kindergarten community, both culturally and in the learning of exhibition protocol and process. This week the second of our children’s kakahu was put on display.
The children regularly visit Te Papa in small groups and these visits have been the basis for research that focuses on how children make meanings, view themselves as learners and share understandings in museum environments.
Over time our tamariki have gained rich understandings of Te Papa and the culture and tikanga of ours and other museums. They have also used objects such as the kākahu in Kahu Ora, drawings, child/ teacher made booklets and reference books to help make connections between these different settings.
Kahu Ora has enabled children to extend on their knowledge of kākahu from previous experiences and explore and research the new. It has also given them the opportunity to interact with weavers, Te Papa staff and visitors who have passed on their valuable knowledge, skills and stories of Te Ao Māori. These experiences together have fostered learning and inspired the ongoing projects of creating kākahu back at kindergarten.
Apolline Michaud-Fidey’s cloak is the second Tai Tamariki kākahu to be displayed in Kahu Ora. Like Maia Waldegrave’s dog skin cloak before her, Apolline has designed and created her kākahu from start to finish.
The children have taken responsibility for their own learning throughout the creation of these kākahu and the teachers at Tai Tamariki and staff at Te Papa placed great value in their involvement in every step of the process of exhibiting in Kahu Ora.
On Tuesday this week it was time for Apolline to exhibit her korowai. Pamela Lovis from Te Papa talked to Apolline and her friend Urszula about what was going to happen and the kakahu was then carefully placed in a box and transported by the designer and her support crew up to the exhibition space.
Maia’s Dog Skin cloak was gently removed and Pamela and Apolline worked together to display the new kākahu. Apolline gave direction as to how she thought it should look, helped to tie the ribbon and instructed the collar placement.
It became clear through this process that the kākahu was to be treated as a taonga.
It is hands on experiences such as this and the recent blessing of the kākahu that show our children how artefacts are treated and exhibited in Te Papa.
Apolline and Urszula returned to Tai Tamariki to share their busy morning with their friends. I am really looking forward to documenting future visits and how our children can teach others about the knowledge they have formed.
Our kaiako, whanau and most importantly our tamariki feel such a sense of pride in seeing the Tai Tamariki kākahu exhibited in Kahu Ora. I feel that through each step of this exhibition process our young children have been shown first hand how their learning and contributions are valued in this museum environment.