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Tramping in the footsteps of our ancestors

Kia ora koutou!

Last Sunday I drove a van load of excited boys to the start of the Pouakai track at the top of Mangorei Road, south of New Plymouth. I greeted the maunga with a mihi, said our karakia and then we set off. We meandered through the bush for about an hour before we reached what seemed like a never ending stairway to heaven! This was physically challenging for the group and required frequent hydration stops. When we finally arrived to our destination we were rewarded with the most amazing views of Ngāmotu, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Taranaki.

The view of Taranaki from Pouakai

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The boys on top of the world

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Boys relaxing outside the hut

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Tātaiako Cultural Competencies

Tātaiako are a set of cultural competencies developed by the Ministry to help all educators support Māori learners to achieve educationally as Māori. This wānanga is underpinned by the five competencies which include: whanaungatanga, ako, wānanga, manaakitanga and tangata whenuatanga.


Evidence shows that effective teaching and learning depends on the relationship between teachers and students and students’ active engagement (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh and Teddy, 2007. Te Kōtahitanga Phase 3 Whānaungatanga: Establishing a culturally responsive pedagogy of relations in mainstream secondary school classrooms). Undertaking excursions such as tramping provide opportunities to build relationships with your learners and in this case their whānau as well.


In the context of Tātaiako, ako describes learning in the classroom and beyond. Taking this group into the outdoors allowed the boys to engage with an authentic learning context which included views of the maunga, identifying different species of trees, the sound of flowing rivers and the singing of various birds. In this case, the surrounding elements were our teachers. Learning did not begin at 9am and finish and 3pm but continued from the beginning to the end of the tramp.

After dinner we lit candles, sat around the table and had a lesson in te reo Māori. We revisited many of the stories that have been shared about maunga Taranaki, significant ancestors and places. After supper we sat around the wood fire and the boys learnt a waiata tawhito (old chant) about Parihaka. They were encouraged to learn how their ancestors did through listening to the words and creating pictures in their minds. Often on an overnight excursion it is easy slip into relax mode and learning opportunities can be missed. On this occasion the boys seemed to soak up the learning with little effort and still had time to relax and have fun.


  • planning and preparation for the tramp

  • visiting and talking to whānau and hearing how excited they were about the trip

  • taking the boys on their first tramp to the maunga

  • seeing the smiles from the boys when we arrived to the hut and their response to the amazing views of the maunga

  • Cooking, eating and sharing stories together

  • learning in the outdoors and sharing kōrero around the wood fire

  • finding the kaikomako tree

  • receiving texts from whānau about how much their boys enjoyed the experience


Whats next?

Next Monday Nathaniel Louwrens who is a fellow member of the Enabling e-Learning and Learning with digital technologies team will be visiting. Nathaniel is keen to learn more about Māori culture and home-school partnerships.


Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom - Connecting school to the wider community with and about technologies.