Kidsfirst's Redwood teaching team, Kaitautoko Pauline Ellis-Waru and ESM, Kathryn O'Connell-Sutherland share inspirational thoughts from their recent trip to Waitangi...









Kidsfirst Redwood's Jenn Corner writes:


Our Story -

As a team, Caro, Jenn, Nadene, Julia, Pauline (Kaitautoko) , planned to head to Waitangi so that we could gain a deeper understanding of New Zealand's historical events, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its implications. This has been a part of our bi-cultural development in 2016. Unfortunately Caro was unable to come so Kathryn our Education Service Manager, came in her place. The travel dates were 25th-29th September 2016. Prior to our trip Pauline gave us a valuable reading 'Ngā Rerenga o Te Tiriti: Community organisations engaging with the Treaty of Waitangi' This document gave us a lot to consider leading up to, while we were on our trip and upon our return. We also had a variety of other readings to consider.



We arrived in Kerikeri on Sunday the 25th Sept, then drove to Paihia. We orientated ourselves, and popped to the supermarket for supplies for our three night stay.
On Monday the 26th of September we all walked from our hotel along the shore line of Paihia to the beautiful grounds of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We went on a guided tour with a local guide which took about 50 minutes. He took us to the waka house where Ngāpuhi’s ceremonial war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua lies. This is the worlds largest waka (35-metre- long) which needs a minimum of 76 paddlers to handle it safely on the water. It was built as part of Ngāpuhi’s contribution to mark the centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi signing, and was launched in 1940. In 1974, the waka was renovated for the Queen’s visit to Waitangi, and the shelter, Te Korowai o Maikuku, was built to house it near to shore. After the Queen’s voyage on Ngātokimatawhaorua, she designated it ‘Her Majesty’s Ship’, which makes the waka part of her Royal Navy. The waka is launched every year on 6 February as part of

Waitangi Day celebrations.


We learnt about the journey of Māori ancestors to Aotearoa, discussed peoples understanding of the treaty, and learnt about the events and happenings surrounding the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and how it has affected NZ over time.



After our tour we arrived at The Treaty House (originally known as ‘the Residency’). It is where James Busby lived and handled much of his official business as the British government’s representative in New Zealand from 1833 to 1840.
A few minutes later we were welcomed on with a powhiri to Te Whare Rūnanga, (a carved meeting house) and presented with a cultural performance. Te whare Rūanga faces the Treaty house and symbolises the partnership agreed between Māori and the crown. Following the performance we were blown away when Pauline entered into conversation with one of the wahine in Te Reo Māori !!!! We all listened in awe and appreciation, with a strong feeling of inspiration.


We headed to the flagstaff and stood where New Zealand's founding document was signed on 6 Feb 1840, and had a look at the panoramic views of the Bay of Islands. This whole area where we stood was steeped in historical significance. We stopped at the cafe for lunch before heading to the Museum of Waitangi where we read stories, opinions, views and facts about the treatys creation and signing. There were a lot of strong visual displays, Significant taonga, photos and documents relating to the treaty. We learnt more about the impact and responses to post-Treaty colonisation. War, peace-making, petitions and delegations. We now have a great understanding of the timeline of events and significant happenings both pre and post 1840 in New Zealand's most important historical place.



The next day (Tuesday) we headed over to Kororareka formally known as "Hell Hole of the pacific". This is now known as Russell, and was briefly known as the first Capital of New Zealand between 1840-41. We walked up Flagstaff Hill/ Maiki Hill (after trying to hitch a ride to no avail) and visited the site where the flagstaff was felled four times. This was done by Hone Heke Pokai (and associate) due to resentment, economic decline, deteriorating relations between Ngāpuhi and Pākehā and loss of control by ngāpuhi. This was also the beginning of what would be called the 'flagstaff war' or the 'Northern War'. We visited the Russell Museum and oldest existing church in NZ today 'Christ Church'. Among the graves in the churchyard is that of Tamati Waka Nene, a Ngapuhi chief largely responsible for the Maori’s acceptance of the Treaty of Waitangi and who fought for the settlers against Hone Heke.


That afternoon we visited the local Haruru Falls. This was New Zealand’s first river port and an aramoana for the inland Māori tribes and for the early vision boats. Māori also had a small settlement here where they traded. There were nine kaianga (villages) between Haruru and Waitangi.
 That evening we felted together. We made Maui, and Tangaroa and can not wait to make more, we’re hooked! There were many thoughtful discussions of an evening. We reflected on our learning, our experiences, and our ideas going forward from here.


We watched a Ted Talks by Tame Iti and did some more readings. Wednesday morning came and it was time for us to move on I think we underestimated the time we had, as we had planned to visit other historically significant sites, such as Ruapekapeka Pa and Kauri Forests.


We all flew to Auckland and from there Pauline went off to visit her girls, and Kathryn went back to work in Christchurch. Nadene, Julia and Jenn flew to Wellington. First stop was Archives New Zealand where we went to investigate the Treaty itself! WoW! The Treaty is a group of nine documents, seven on paper and two on parchment. 


The next day was spent at Te Papa Museum where we spent time at long term exhibitions such as Mana Whenua. This displays taonga tuku iho (treasures handed down) such as woven and carved
works, contemporary Māori artworks, and a look inside Te Hau ki Turanga, one of the oldest and most significant meeting houses in existence.


We also looked at their Te Tiriti o Waitangi exhibition, Te Marae, Ngā Toi, Whiti Te Rā! The story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira and many others. Whilst watching a video on Te Raparaha we listened as a young girl sat with her Mum, flitting between fluent Te Reo Māori and English. This was such a magical moment for us. We also came across groups of children with Teachers who were also frequently using Te Reo Māori. We were picked up from Te papa and arrived home about 5pm Thursday.


We have met as a team post trip and discussed what this means for our practice going forward. We are very mindful of our responsibilities as Treaty Partners, and will be very intentional in making decisions on improving teacher practice. Watch this space!



ESM, Kathryn O’Connell-Sutherland writes:


“Ngā Rerenga o Te Tiriti: Community organisations engaging with the Treaty of Waitangi” (Published by Treaty Resource Centre, Margaret, J. 2016).


Kidsfirst Kindergartens Redwood were one of the recipients of the 2016 ‘high performing teams’ funding. Their intention in applying for this fund was to create an authentic bicultural experience. They shifted their focus after engaging with Pauline-Ellis Waru our Kidsfirst Kaitautoko and this journey lead them on a new kaupapa to deepen and personalise their understandings of te Tiriti of Waitangi. 


Our Association Strategic Plan (2016-2018) acknowledges that te Tiriti is a foundation document. This team have slowed down and immersed themselves in the stories and history of place to help make meaningful and personal connections. I felt humbled and privileged to join them on this inaugural trip to Waitangi, a shared experience of ako and manaakitanga as we supported each other in our listening, reflecting, feeling and dreaming.


Some of the highlights were the heartfelt expression of whanaungatanga during the powhiri, observing our Kaitautoko immerse i te reo Māori in the whare and connecting with a home-based kaiako, a felting workshop in Paihia (making maui and tangaroa) and the ultimate for me was a spiritual feeling and sense of turangawaewae in ‘being there and standing on the grounds of Waitangi’.


This trip has opened new pathways for each of us and reinforced our endeavours to move towards a treaty partnership as individuals and as an Association. “Embracing the Treaty is about engaging in a process of change at both the organisational and personal level. It requires an openness and a willingness to operate differently” (2016, Treaty Resource Centre).







Pauline Ellis-Waru, Kidsfirst Kaitautoko says:


“I am fortunate to work alongside a highly motivated cohort of Kidsfirst (Tamariki-ki-Mua) whānau who are really inspired to grow their Treaty partnership aspirations as an organisation. 


The kaiako who we were lucky enough to be teamed up with for the trip to Waitangi are a representation of the wider teaching group who are driven and committed to increase their Tiriti-literacy as it underpins the Kidsfirst/Tamariki-ki-mua philosophy and values. 


The highlight of this trip for me was to see this commitment first hand!”








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