Wānanga teaches tamariki paddling skills and tikanga Māori

By Jessica Tyson

Children’s Day today provided an opportunity for tamariki in Auckland to learn more about waka, tikanga and te reo Māori through a waka hoe wānanga.

Outdoor activity facilitators Mātātoa, also known as Time2Train, started running wānanga seven years ago. This summer the group has just received support from local government to run wānanga in Auckland.

Organiser Frank Haimoa, of Ngāpuhi and Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, says during each wānanga the children can learn about karakia, games and how to paddle.

“The benefits to being in a team environment outside of rugby or netball, the tamariki just thrive on it. They whakapapa to this so it becomes a huge learning curve.  And for Māori in particular, it’s something a lot of them don’t get the opportunity to do.”

Wairahi Janada Thomson, 20, of Te Aupōuri and Ngāti Maniapoto, was one of the kaihoe mentors who led the wānanga at Te Atatū Peninsula today.

“Today at Henderson, we are teaching paddling for everyone outdoors. The purpose of this is to educate them with the skills that our ancestors created for us to continue to learn.”

For many of the children, it was their first time on a waka.

Jake Hunter, from Tāmaki Makaurau, says going on the waka was “cool”.

“Just meeting new people, getting body strength up, just learning the Māori culture more. I learned that there are different Māori words going forward, going backwards and stopping.”

Heitor Mendoca, 8, from Brazil, says it was fun to come along to start learning his third language since he already knows how to speak Portuguese and English.

“I also like it how you can’t split the wakas apart because they’re just joint together…I like that because let’s say you’re friends on one waka and your friends on the other you can just shout to them.”

Mātātoa first started teaching seven years ago at kura kaupapa Māori.

“What we do is we put in place these sorts of kaupapa, these lessons that are based around te ao Māori, based in the ngāhere, based in the moana, where these rangatahi can learn those skills as well and get credits for it,” Thomson says.

Haimoa says Mātātoa will continue running wānanga around Auckland this summer and in the future.