Matariki Professional Development for Early Years Teachers

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.

Carter Observatory - Pelorus Trust Planetarium, Photographer: Carter Observatory, © Carter Observatory

Carter Observatory – Pelorus Trust Planetarium, Photographer: Carter Observatory, © Carter Observatory

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.

Tama-nui-i-te-ra (the sun) setting position changing as he moves between his summer wife (Hine Raumati) and winter wife (Hine Takarua). Picture care of Carter Observatory

Tama-nui-i-te-ra (the sun) setting position changing as he moves between his summer wife (Hine Raumati) and winter wife (Hine Takarua). Picture care of Carter Observatory

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’.

Story S activity, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Story S activity, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa. Handling objects: fish hook; anchor stone; basket of kai; waka kereru; putatara (conch shell); cloak; shovel

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.

The Matariki cluster. Magnet available from Te Papa online store http://www.tepapastore.co.nz/products/matariki-magnet

The Matariki cluster. Magnet available from Te Papa online store: http://www.tepapastore.co.nz/products/matariki-magnet

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.

Exploring kaitiakitanga through guided play in Te Papa's Early Years Matariki Programme, © Te Papa

Exploring kaitiakitanga through guided play in Te Papa’s Early Years Matariki Programme, © Te Papa

Take on a mission, and be a hero this Matariki! Photographer, Te Papa, © Te Papa

Become a hero this Matariki! What problems will you take on? What changes will you make? Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

We are kaitiaki to our taonga (treasures), but did you know that objects can be kaitiaki too?! These star shaped waka huia (treasure containers) will protect the precious materials held inside.

We are kaitiaki to our taonga (treasures), but did you know that objects can be kaitiaki too?! These star shaped waka huia (treasure containers) will protect the precious materials held inside.

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.

Te Papa's Taniwha. On display in Bush City Kiosk, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Te Papa’s taniwha. On display in Bush City Kiosk, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Southend Kindergarten's Kaitiaki, Photographer: Donna Hewison, © Southend Kindergarten

Southend Kindergarten’s Kaitiaki, Photographer: Donna Hewison, © Southend Kindergarten

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!

4 Responses

  1. Alex

    Hi Rebecca, John, Khali
    Many thanks for the PD session and your sharing of ideas. Today (gorgeous day here in Wellington), with a colourful feather cloak/wings made for kiwi, we took our bird puppets outside at whole group mat time and I tried storytelling How Kiwi Lost His Wings using our trees. The sunlight really was twinkling down through the leaves and the children seemed quite enthralled with the story. We left the puppets outside and many children acted out bird games the rest of the day. Thanks for the idea. Khandallah Kindergarten.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Browne

      Thanks for your post Khandallah Kindergarten! Sounds like you had a wonderful story session :)
      We are all so pleased that the Professional Development session was so useful

  2. Karen

    Kia Ora Rebecca
    The Matariki session was awesome and please pass on our thanks to John from Carters Observatory for the interesting talk on the night sky.

    We are also focusing on kaitakitangi this year for Matariki as it links well with our current self review on sustainability. We will be retelling the story of kiwi losing his wings to our tamariki along with teaching the matariki song naming the planets (from your website). We will send you photos.

    A huge thank you for organising another great PD session. So much work went into it, the handouts were great and my team learned a great deal.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Browne

      Cheers for your comment Karen. We look forward to seeing your pictures :)

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