Being historic leaders in Kura Kaupapa Māori, this Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hoani Waititi has demonstrated another way to ensure indigenous knowledge will be passed through generations to come.

Hoani Waititi Marae stands strong in Glen Eden, Auckland and is home to the Kura which was the first of its kind in New Zealand, allowing approximately 200 students between years 1 and 13 to be fully emerged in Te Reo and Kaupapa Māori. 

Ki te whakamana I te reo me ona tikanga kia whakapapa rangatira ai te Iwi, he Māori tonu.” This is the mission statement for the Kura which in English means, “To validate Māori Language and customs so that Māori may flourish as Māori.”

Principal Hare Rua understands that rangatahi contribute to the revitalisation of Te Reo and Tikanga Māori in their respective whānau, hapū and iwi. Therefore, he enabled the students to access knowledge that has been stored in the collective memory of Māori for generations. The knowledge includes an understanding of systems that have worked and continue to work efficiently for students and their wider whānau, such as Māramataka.

Māramataka – a system founded on the tohu inherent in the skies, in the waters and on the land – was used in the planting of 16 raised vegetable gardens to maximise food productivity and sustainability. With support from My Backyard Garden Project and Healthy Families Waitakere, the Kura and Marae whānau have embarked on a journey of composting, harvesting, and learning ways to use their home grown produce. The students have also continued to build on this space by constructing a whakairo (wood-carving) that stands proudly at the foot of the gardens.

The vegetable garden was a catalyst for mātauranga whakairo to be integrated into the school curriculum. While learning the history and practical skills involved in the art, students are also working on a whare whakairo that will serve as a legacy for future students to enjoy.

The Kura philosophy emphasises that for deep and meaningful education to happen, the person’s wairua (spirit) and mauri (life force or essence) must not only be intact, but flourishing. By reconnecting with these indigenous systems, teaching staff have seen students make connections between their physical and spiritual well-being, thus sparking a change in their environment.

Image: Whakairo (wood-carving) standing proudly at the foot of the 16 vegetable gardens