Te Papa Education really values the relationships we have made (and continue to make) with other organisations in and around Wellington, and we are always looking for opportunities to work collaboratively.
The celebration of Matariki (Māori New Year) has proven to be a great opportunity to work with the team at Carter Observatory. This year, we decided to provide a Teacher Professional Development session especially for Early Years teachers (ECE-Year 2).
We welcomed 39 participants to the Observatory last Saturday morning (10th May), two of which had come all the way from Carterton! After warming ourselves with tea and coffee, we started the session with a brief mihi whakatau (formal welcome), led by our Senior Māori Educator, Khali Philip-Barbara.
Time in the planetarium followed.
Whilst we gazed up in wonder, John Field, Acting Learning and Programme Manager, pointed out individual stars, constellations and clusters of significance. He also shared with us a number of traditional stories about the night’s sky, such as the Milky Way being Tama-rereti’s waka (canoe). It was interesting to find out that along with the first rising of the Matariki cluster, the moon plays a part in identifying the start of the New Year, and this is why the date changes each year! Did you know that for many iwi (including Ngāti Toa here in Wellington) the rising of the star Puanga is used to mark the beginning of celebrations instead of the Matariki cluster?
We made our way down to Te Papa, where we had some morning tea, and John shared some more about the astronomical side of Matariki. Teachers particularly liked the story of Tama-nui-i-te-rā (the sun) and his two wives, Hine Takarua (the winter wife) and Hine Raumati (the summer wife), which explains the different position of the sun throughout the year.
We passed around some of the handling objects we use here at Te Papa to help children make associations with the stars, and then did an activity around these using a sequencing tool called the ‘Story S’.
We finished this part of our session, by singing a waiata (song), Ngā Tamariki o Matariki, which names the seven major stars making up the Matariki cluster.
Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the theme of Matariki celebrations at Te Papa this year, and so, unpacking this concept and looking at ways to approach it with young children was the subject of our remaining time together. Ideas around caring for the environment, significant objects, legends, ngā Atua (Māori gods), superheroes, and taniwha were well received by teachers. Everyone received a pack of resources with more useful material as well.
When talking about our Te Papa taniwha, made during SeaWeek to warn visitors against dumping rubbish into the ocean, it was really encouraging to hear that Southend Kindergarten already had a taniwha too! Their friendly kaitiaki lives on the front fence, keeping a watchful eye over the children and the centre. It is a welcoming face to the community, and well loved by the children and their families.
These examples led to great korero (talk) amongst teachers about the taniwha they could make with their tamariki (children)!
It was a real pleasure for John, Khali and myself to run this session, and we hope everyone came away with more knowledge, skill and confidence in engaging with and responding to Matariki with young children.
Let us know how you get on with your celebrations in 2014!