Ko Te Aroha te māunga
Ko Waihou te awa
Ko Mātaatua te waka
Ko Ngāti Pākehā te iwi anō hoki
Ko Whakatōhea te iwi anō hoki
Ko Ngāi Te Rangi te iwi
Nō Ngarua ahau
Kei Te Rae tōku kainga noho
Ko Stephen Watts tōku pāpā. Kua mate ia.
Ko Anne Watts tōku māmā
Ko Mic Watts tōku ingoa
Ko Aia Dowsett Watts tāku tamāhine e whitu ōna tau
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa
As part of my efforts to connect both with the bi-cultural aspect of the NZC, and my own – albeit disconnected – Māori heritage, I took the opportunity of using one of my non-contact blocks on a Thursday to join one of whaea Leoni’s introductory Te Reo classes throughout term 3.
All students are required to take one of these SPINs for a term during their foundation (junior) years. Each foundation student has 3 SPINs per term, each for 1 block per week. This gives Leoni 9 or 10 lessons to impart a basis for understanding te Ao Māori to all ākonga, whatever their prior knowledge.
Leoni is an excellent teacher with a caring and patient nature which is apparent in all her student interactions, and I found the class valuable purely for the opportunity to observe her pedagogy let alone the content. Although some of the curriculum was (suitably) basic, I found it valuable just to refresh my memory and to provide an opportunity to practice using the Reo. I learnt a lot of new phrases also, and had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the school’s bicultural situation.
It wasn’t compulsory to undertake any Māori study at High School – it was optional even in third form (year 9). I did learn quite a few basic kupu at Primary (counting, colours etc.) which I think has helped me to understand pronunciation and given me a basis of knowledge. The 6-month (1 morning a week) Wananga o Aotearoa course I did in Whanganui in 2007 was very valuable in increasing my vocabulary and especially my understanding of tikanga.
At high school, I found Te Reo daunting and intimidating, and while I knew that I had a small (1/32) amount of Maori whakapapa, no one in my family had shared any of this history or knowledge. I had worked out that a thirty-second translated to a Great-great-great grandparent, but had no idea in terms of Iwi or Whenua about any specifics.
Happily I have managed in the past few years to make a few connections, to the point where I had managed to identify that Whakatōhea were one of the Iwi to which we were affiliated.
Part of Leoni’s course involved creating a pepeha which was a great impetus to do more research into this. I made contact with a relative who had researched some of our genealogy and was able to get a lot more specific details, enabling me to bridge the gap in my knowledge between Huihana Te Arawaere Hopa (Ngāi te Rangi / Whakatōhea) and my Grandmother Gloria, her Great grand-daughter.
I learnt that our branch of the family lost it’s connection to Whakatõhea when Huihana’s mother, Rawa Te Puea took her to the Coromandel to escape her marriage to a much older man, which had been arranged by Huihana’s father, Hopa Te Wheko. My grandmother and some of her children were welcomed onto the Opape marae in Opotiki a year before she passed away, and 4-5 generations after Rawa Te Puea and Huihana and her mother had left. I wish I had had the opportunity to accompany her.
So not only did auditing this class help build my connection to HPSS’s bicultural identity, it provided the opportunity to gain a valuable and fulfilling insight into my own whakapapa.