Play Learn Grow – Whanaungatanga

It is about being connected. It is a respectful relationship through shared experiences and working together with Whanau, which provides a sense of belonging. Whanau is a principle, which binds individuals to the wider group and affirms the value of the collective.

Kaiako team come together on Monday to Friday to provide contexts for our tamariki learning development in Te reo and other different languages, identity, and experience Maori and other cultures. Each morning the team Kaiako and tamariki take lead in our Whanaungatanga mat time. We share waiata, poems, hand action, and whole-body movements, especially listening to their voices sharing special news from their whanau, or any other achievements they have accomplished e.g., Toilet training, a proud moment for our tamariki and saying Karakia together. We share new things we have discovered, making these moments, happy and always having fun.

Whanaungatanga Mat Time In Pukeko Whanau

We start the day, by welcoming all Tamariki and Kaiako to Pukeko Whanau, using all the different culture greeting, eg, Ni Hao Ma!. We sing waiata: Mōrena tamariki mā, Tēnā koe/ hello to one, poem: Hammer hammer hammer, Kaiako will ask a question to the tamariki for any volunteer to sing waiata of their choice. Kaiako will ask another question to another volunteer, to share good news from home or a Kaiako to share good news within the center. After the sharing, we wash our hands and sit on the chair at a table , to say our Kaiakia for our kai time.


Mōrena Tamariki mā               Tena Koe Hello to one                            Pati pati pati pati tamaiti e          

Tamariki mā x2                           Tena Ko rua Hello to two                      Pati pati pati pati tamaiti e          

Mōrena Tamariki mā               Tena Koutou Hello to all                        Siva siva siva siva tamaiti e

Tamariki mā x2                           Haere mai everyone                                Siva siva siva siva tamaiti e,



Hammer, hammer, hammer                Hāmā, hāmā, hāmā                    Samala, samala,samala

Shake, shake, shake                                 Rūrū, rūrū, rūrū                          Lulu, lulu, lulu                             

Roll, roll roll                                                 Pīrori ,pīrori,pīrori                    Taavili, taavili, taavili

Tap, tap, tap,                                                Pāngū , pāngū, pāngū                              Pati, pati, pati

Clap, clap clap                                             Paki, paki, paki                                           Po, po, po


Sharing time: Show and tell good news.

Tamariki wash hands ready for Kai Time.

Waipiro Bay Marae Visit

At Play Learn Grow we acknowledges and reflect the unique place of Māori as tangata whenua. Our children are all given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both parties to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Our curriculum respects and supports the right of each child to be confident in their own culture and encourages children to understand and respect all other cultures, of which we have a great variety of.

Over an extended Waitangi weekend I went on a 7 hour drive to Waipiro Bay between Ruatoria and Gisborne, staying at the stunning Iritekura Marae, a marae with so much mana. There was a tangihanga going on at neighbouring Taharora Marae (that we later attended) so the tangata whenua were a little down in numbers, but the pōwhiri was nevertheless outstanding.

Assembly at the waharoa and coming in with the karanga

Elder Te Naiti Te Reo was kaiwhaikōrero (main speaker) and gave a commanding mihi. The power, passion and beauty in his kōrero where there for all to see. We felt settled, reassured and welcomed to be here. The size of the journey to being our whānau that whakapapa to Ngatiwai iwi was acknowledged. Whaikōrero acknowledged the rock at Kawa Marae on Aotea brought by the Ngati Porou hapu of Iritekura and Taharora, to lay down the mauri and symbolise the connection with Kawa Marae.

Waka Huia Elder Te Reo - YouTube
Elder Te Reo Naiti – kaumātua of Iritekura & Taharora hapu of Ngāti Porou Iwi

We heard our ancestor Kewene Tamakatore. Kewene was a great warrior from the Iritekura hapu of Ngati Porou, so his home was Waipiro Bay. As a young warrior he accompanied Ngāpuhi during the musket wars, on battles with Te Mauparaoa’s ope that fought and lost to the Marutūahu iwi confederation (Ngāti Rongoū, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Pāoa) on Aotea (Great Barrier Island) in 1838. Kewene escaped the battlefield but was captured coming down out of the bush for water. The Marutūahu men wanted to kill him but Te Mariri spared his life. He adopted the Ngatiwai gave Kewene to Takaau as a husband. Their daughter was Raihi Miraka, seen as the last great rangatira of Aotea.

Raihi Miraka – photo in Taharora marae

Oratory is a traditional and integral element of tikanga Māori (maori practice). Whaikōrero is viewed as a hallowed realm, with only a select few amongst many reaching the pinnacle. I have not reached the pinnacle and am studying towards a diploma in Tikanga Māori at Te Wānanga o Aoteoroa this year, having completed certificate courses in it previously. It was an honour to be invited by our whānau kaumātua to whaikōrero for the manuhiri (visiting group), where I got to talk for a few minutes in te reo māori.

Whānau at Iritekura Marae (Ngātiwai te iwi)

During final hākari (feast) stage of the pōwhiri, I talked with Elder and we reflected on the big question, about just how do we keep whaikōrero relevant, whilst keeping its sacred nature?

Whilst only a few days in length it was a masterclass in tikanga māori, that despite best efforts and amazing kaiako (teachers) at Te Wānanga o Aoteoroa (kia ora Desrae Popata, Aaron Henare, Blackie Tohiariki, Errin Henare & Kristin Henare), there is nothing like the real thing. This was a tremendous experience. Whether kotahitanga to prepare large meals in rapid time, clean up, play and sing waiata, the whānangatanga was beautiful. I learned about kaumātuatanga where the kaumātua talked about their responsibilities:

1) carrying the culture

2) attending and providing rituals at hui, tangi and pōwhiri on marae

3) speaking on behalf of the hapu or whānau

4) providing spiritual leadership and social control

5) resolving disputes and conflicts between whānau and iwi (or others)

6) providing guidance on matters of religious and cultural needs

7) assessing whether rahui need to be placed

8) protecting and nurturing rangitahi (younger adults) and tamariki and mokopuna

9) recognizing and encouraging the potential of younger members.

These are the challenges we face and at Play Learn Grow we love and greatly exceed the objectives enshrined in Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa (Ministry of Education’s Early Childcare Education Curriculum).

On the atea of Iritekura, Mangaone is the wharekai on the right, Waipiro Bay on the left.