Te Aka Pūkāea

Māori Medium

Te Aka Pūkāea

Te Aka Pūkāea, e ngunguru nei. Hi; au au, auē hā! Hi!

Te Aka Pūkāea today, is the culmination and celebration of a 30 year journey and legacy valuing reo māori and tikanga māori. It is also a cultural, spiritual, social, economic and educational investment in succession planning with our most precious gift and bounty at the heart of it all, our tamariki mokopuna.

Te Aka Pūkāea, is like a surrogate ‘marae’ for those who live far from their own marae or for those who may have lost their tribal connections or engagement with their own tribal communities.

The inception of Te Aka Pūkāea sees our Tiriti o Waitangi promises and values of Rangatiratanga (responsibility to protect, preserve and nurture) Rongo (peace and prosperity) and Āta Noho (thriving safely) in action. For 25 years our Māori medium pathways, Te Uru Karaka and Te Whānau Awahou sat alongside one another, coming together when the time or space allowed. The creation of Te Aka Pūkāea, the whare ako and two whānau together, was an obvious step in continuing to grow, to evolve and to strengthen the solid foundation carved out in previous years.

Māori education in the 60’s and 70’s was very paternalistic, prescribed and micro-managed by the Ministry of Education, to assimilate Māori children into Pākeha life at a high cost, the loss of language and culture. The 80’s saw Tomorrow Schools and school BOT’s learning to take responsibility for education. The 80’s and 90’s was about reviving te reo Māori, and by the 2000s, reclaiming te reo Māori. Today it’s about normalizing and thriving, not only in terms of language and tikanga, but also about how we perceive and understand ourselves and the world we live in, whilst being grounded in mātauranga māori (indigenous knowledge).

Kawa (universal laws) Tikanga (why) and Ritenga (how), expressed through mātauranga Māori, have evolved over time. Rather than being seen as a cosmetic add on, they have become pivotal to advancing both reo and tikanga, identity and connection and relationships especially within the Newton Central School context. Centering kawa, tikanga and ritenga in the way we carry ourselves, in the way we approach things, in the way we view things and the way we think about things provides guidance for kaimahi, our tamariki and whānau to experience some beautiful opportunities.

In Term 4, 2016, Te Uru Karaka and Te Whānau Awahou came together to begin the process of ‘poroporoaki’(farewell) and ‘whakawaerea’(clearing) of the old prefabs, rooms 9, 10, 11 and 12. Our customs and spirituality see buildings as living entities. These buildings had carried, had protected our two whānau for a really long time and so we knew we needed to acknowledge them. They had one last job which was to be moved to a new temporary site and to continue to nurture our whānau until Te Aka Pūkāea was complete.

Rituals of farewell allow us to express our gratitude and appreciation, to say thank you and to let go as part of a grieving process. In a sense it is a death into rebirth. We walked through the old prefabs reciting karakia and sharing waiata. We then took symbolic gifts from each room and buried them near the vicinity for relocation according to our custom of ‘whāngai hau,’ the feeding of motives and intentions from old to new.

In March of 2017, Ruia Aperahama and Te Kawehau Hoskins, with the consent of Ngāti Whātua Orākei, went to Maungakiekie to source the kōhatu mauri that would become the heart and mauri of our whare. This was brought back to kura and sat down in front of the original Aka Pūkāea plant near the pool. The children visited it, talked to it, sang to it, did haka to it and touched it. Once the site was ready, we held a special ceremony, a tohi, to acknowledge our kohatu mauri, to speak to its role and importance and to embue it with our intentions. Whānau and tamariki engaged in this tohi ceremony and then the kōhatu was buried in the middle of the site at the point where both sides of the whare would join together.

We returned on various occasions to practise our custom of rāhui (restriction, protection and preservation) to ensure that both spiritual and physical safety boundaries were established and then again to hiki tapu or lift the restrictions. Our final act before the whakarewatanga (opening) was to bid farewell to the prefabs that had been part of us for so long, as they were to be demolished. It was sad to see them go but we knew that the next exciting stage of the journey lay ahead.

On the dawn of May the 12th, 2018, mana whenua (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Tainui, Waiohua) along with the school community, a wide range of dignitaries and community leaders shared in the dawn birth, naming and celebration of Te Aka Pūkāea. It was a stunning occasion steeped in kawa, tikanga and ritenga

Te Aka Pūkāea is a safe space, a connected space and a shared space. It’s a place to gather, to wānanga, to learn and to share. A place for tamariki, for pakeke and for kaumātua. It’s a place of healing intergenerational language trauma from our country’s past by growing generations of proud, Māori speaking whānau with kawa, tikanga and ritenga as its foundation.

Te Uru Karaka o Te Aka Pūkāea

Māori medium education has been a significant part of our kura for the past 30 years. In 1993, a bilingual pathway was established and named Whakarongo Rua, by Ngāti Whātua parent Taura Eruera at the beginning of 1994. Within two years, whānau interest in a full immersion pedagogy grew and in 1997 Te Uru Karaka, our rūmaki tūturu pathway was established.

We have 3 kaiako leading teaching and learning in Te Uru Karaka, and all tamariki from Tau 0 – 6 share the akomanga in our whare ako, Te Aka Pūkāea.

What is the meaning of Te Uru Karaka?

Te Uru Karaka is the name for the whenua and refers to the grove of karaka trees that grew prolifically in and around this area. The karaka berries were a highly sought after and important food source to Māori. The kura draws its name from the whenua where the sacred grove of karaka trees grew, which is where our kura now stands. Te Uru Karaka also acknowledges and continues to strengthen its relationship with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

History: Te Whenua

The ridge on which Newton Central School sits, and stretches along the beginning of Great North Road runs is called ‘Te Rae o Kāwharu’ (the forehead of the famous ancestor – Kāwharu). The name ‘Te Uru Karaka’ is also associated with the area and recalls a Karaka grove that grew across the gully in the location that is also now known as Basque park. Te Uru Karaka o Te Aka Pūkāea (Māori-Medium Level 1) was given this name to acknowledge the area, its history and and in acknowledgement of tangata whenua.

There are two waterways linked to the Te Uru Karaka area. Wai-a-Te-Ao (Motions Creek), which starts at Te Uru Karaka, and flows west under the motorway, behind MOTAT and connects with Ngā Puna o Waiōrea (Western Springs). Then from Ngā Puna o Waiōrea, Wai-a-Te-Ao flows out to sea at Te Tokaroa (Meola reef). The other stream is Waihorotiu (known later as Ligars Canal). Waihorotiu originally started at Meyers Park then entered a swamp at Aotea Square. It then emerged again at Wellesley Street and descended into a small waterfall at the Victoria Street intersection. It later became a polluted sewer.

Te Whānau Awahou o Te Aka Pūkāea

Māori medium education began in our kura over 30 years ago with our bilingual unit, Whakarongo Rua, and evolved over time into our full immersion pathway. In 2005, with a renewed interest in re-establishing a dual immersion pathway, Te Whānau Awahou was born.

We have 3 kaiako leading teaching and learning in Te Uru Karaka, and all tamariki from Tau 0 – 6 share the akomanga in our whare ako, Te Aka Pūkāea.

The meaning of Awahou can be defined as a newly discovered river or a newly created way or flow. We can think of Te Whānau Awahou as the course or pathway that begins the journey into Reo Māori through te Reo Ruatanga.

Erina Henare-Aperahama
Tumuaki Taunaki, Kaihautu nō Te Aka Pūkāea
Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngāti Kurī

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