Each of the kindergartens or early learning centres in the Kidsfirst network have people, places and stories that are special to them. Landmarks in our neighbourhood become identifiers that are woven into the fabric of our centres, making each one unique to the children that attend. 







“Ekea kā tiritiri o te moana”

Ascend to the heights of your aspirations


Part of the skills of our teachers that we really appreciate is honing in on tangata whenuatanga and place-based learning. The team at Kidsfirst Linwood have been focusing on this, and the results are incredible.


Three years ago, as part of a Matariki celebration, the kindergarten walked down to the local library, and Head Teacher Max Apes saw a poster about Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa and the formation of Linwood.


“It really got me thinking that we needed to explore this further. The story was so much a part of the Linwood community and included streets where our tamariki live,” says Max.


The teachers decided to bring this story (right) to life. During 2013 and 2014 the story became part of the kaupapa at Kidsfirst Kindergartens Linwood and that was where the woodlights came in.


Max had seen woodlights in the Childspace Magazine, and thought it would be a dream come true to have some installed at Kidsfirst Linwood. After entertaining the idea with Cath Milio, one of Kidsfirst’s Māori Advisors, she agreed with the teachers that it could be a fantastic way to immerse children in te ao Māori and encourage the engagement of Māori families with the centre.


Cath is also an artist, so she worked closely with children over many months to design an image of Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa, creating the mounds and streets of Linwood that the children knew so well. Cath gathered her ideas from what the children had drawn, knowledge of the pakiwaitara, and also the team’s desire to include significant local plants and landmarks, like the Port Hills.


 ABOVE: The woodlights, where they were made in Wellington.


“Children would latch onto different parts of the story, and it was up to our teaching team to take those interests as far as we could. Children were writing and drawing their own versions of the story, creating maps and coming to relate to the characters like real people. They began to own the story,” says Max.


Engaging in these activities really helped to embed the children’s understanding of the pakiwaitara, according to the team.


The woodlights were made by Childspace in Wellington, with a community grant that the kindergarten applied for. When the precious cargo had been delivered and set up, the team knew this called for a community-wide celebration, so invited whānau to gather on a Friday evening to honour the children’s work and reveal the woodlights.



In preparation for the party the children practised a waiata in honour of Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa, made wrapping paper ready for the ‘reveal’, decorated the kindergarten with pictures and balloons, and baked and iced a cake featuring aspects of the story. Unfortunately, Rakinui wasn’t feeling his best, and it was a wet, cold night.


 ABOVE: The homemade wrapping paper, to wrap the woodlights in.


“It was important for the children’s sense of accomplishment to unwrap the woodlights, like a present. They had made the wrapping paper especially, so we decided to postpone that part of the unveiling, and hold the celebration and shared kai inside with whānau that evening,” says Su.



The celebration consisted of five of the bravest children retelling the story of Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa, with everyone else acting it out. Tamariki also performed a special waiata about Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa's whakapapa to whānau, Kidsfirst Linwood’s ESM Gaye Thawley, and Kidsfirst’s two Māori Advisors, Cath Milio and Hūhana Carter.


Max explained to the parents, “the reason this work around Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa and Linwood has gone so far with the children is because Cath really awhis (supports and cares for) us here at Linwood.”


ABOVE: What party is complete without a cake? 



After the formalities were observed and Hūhana said a karakia over the food, everyone tucked into a kindergarten-cooked barbeque, courtesy of two dads, and shared kai together.


“There was just a great feeling of whanaungatanga as we all gathered together to share in story, song and kai. This really is the beginning of our journey. We’re learning with the community. It’s not about us teaching them, it’s really about ako – the principle of teaching and learning together,” says Max.


ABOVE: The official opening ceremony to unveil the woodlights.


ABOVE: Unwrapping the present.


ABOVE: Finally exploring the woodlights together


The teaching team also want to prioritise getting out of the immediate kindergarten environment and walking down the streets that are mentioned in the story, getting children talking about the special places in the community. Max, Su and Clare have already started talking with Cath about other local kōrero associated with this story – where other woodlights may go in the kindergarten playground to join Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa.


“Absolutely, we’d love it to be one of a series. We knew we wanted to start with Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa as he’s the most relevant to our community here in Linwood. Aoraki’s journey with his brothers, and the creation story with Rakinui and Papa-tū-ā-nuku would be great extensions of the learning,” says Clare.


ABOVE: Kidsfirst Linwood's Teaching Team (L-R): Su Blacklock, Max Apes and Clare O'Riley. 




In the beginning there was nothing: Rakinui (sky father) and Papa-tū-ā-nuku (Earth Mother) were joined together and their children were born between them in darkness. Tane was the son that pushed Rakinui up into the sky and then the light came in, meaning that the children became gods of various parts of the natural world.


Before Raki the sky married Papa the earth, his four sons came down from the sky in the canoe to inspect his intended new wife. Satisfied, they sailed on to find nothing but ocean.


On deciding to return to the sky, the sons chanted the wrong karakia. Their canoe began to sink. As it sank it heeled over, turning to earth and stone. The four sons clambered to safety on its tilted Western side. Here they became mountains, of which the oldest son Aoraki was the highest. The capsized canoe became the South Island.


Later, an ancestor called Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa prepared this new land for people to occupy. Much work was needed. To the northeast, the carved prow of the waka had shattered beyond repair, forming the inlets and islands of the Marlborough Sounds.


Amidships, in the shelter of Aoraki and his brothers, Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa heaped the wreckage to one side to form Banks Peninsula. He then raked the remaining rubble smooth to form the Canterbury Plains. But here and there, low lumpets of rubble escaped the tines of his rake.


These mounds on Linwood Avenue and in England, Tancred and Gloucester Streets close by are the lumpets left by Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa’s raking, visible signs of his work to make this a place for people to live in.”




Learning Outcomes


From the Kidsfirst Linwood team: Max Apes, Su Blacklock and Clare O’Riley


Not only have the tamariki gained knowledge about Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa and Aoraki, two local pakiwaitara, but they have also enhanced other aspects of their learning such as:

  • Mana ake/confidence– pride in themselves performing in front of others, creating the artwork, and learning the waiata.
  • Ako – learning from and alongside others, tamariki saw the teachers learning from Cath as well as themselves.
  • Kotahitanga – working as a team as they learned the song and story, created the cake and artwork.
  • Hiranga – striving to do their best as Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa did before finally creating his masterpiece - Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
  • Pukumahi/hardwork – the tamariki put a lot of effort into the preparation for the party.
  • Māia – bravery, taking a risk, as this was unknown territory at the beginning of our journey, just as it was for Tū-te-Rakiwhanoa at the start of his.
  • Hā a koro mā a kui mā – literally ‘the breath of our ancestors’. Awareness of cultural heritage, its value and relevance. Pakiwaitara provide information about te ao Māori and cosmology: how our tupuna viewed the world, therefore informing our understanding of whānau, hapū and iwi Māori as they are today. Some of our Māori tamariki were able to make connections with their tupuna.
  • Tangata Whenuatanga – developing an understanding of Kāi Tahu history that brings us to this place at this time. This gives Kāi Tahu tamariki a sense of whakapapa, belonging and connection back into ancestry.
  • Affirmation of the language, identity and culture of Māori learners.
  • Learning about geographical features and the names of the land.
  • Contribution – children learn where they come from, have a sense of belonging, and recognise that kindergarten is a special place where each child can contribute uniquely.






Dispositions we see in Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa that we want to encourage in our children at Kidsfirst Linwood:

  • Whanaungatanga – relationship through shared experiences, provides children with a sense of belonging
  • Manaakitanga – generosity, respect and kindness
  • Perseverance
  • Wairua auaha – creative spirit
  • Hiranga – excellence
  • Risk taking
  • Adventurous spirit
  • Practicing to improve our skills
  • Taking pride in our whānau


Every year at Kidsfirst Linwood, the teachers review the vision statement. Already the team agreement is reflecting Tū-te-Raki-Whanoa’s story – the dispositions that the team see in children and in themselves reflected in this story will be reviewed and woven into how the teachers work with each other, tamariki and whānau at Kidsfirst Linwood.


“The programme is not just about woodlights. Everything we do at the kindergarten will come to be aligned with this story over the next 6-12 months. We want to support the children to come to be familiar with the dispositions and recognise these in their own learning,” says Max.








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