Busy Bees and LearningLand students with te reo teacher Kiri Pounamu Nepia. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Young ones take on tikanga


The legend of Te Wheke, the mahunga pakahiwi song, and how to pull a pukana were among the lessons taught at an introductory te reo class at Busy Bees last week.

Children from Busy Bees and LearningLand pre-schools were introduced to te reo Maori through a series of purakau (stories), waiata (songs) and kanikani (dance).

The classes are run by Kapa Haka tutor Kiri Pounamu Nepia after she recently took the reins from her stepfather Madsen Elkington who taught te reo in the region for over a decade.

“It’s fairly new for me but it’s a lot of fun, it really doesn’t feel like a job,” Kiri Pounamu says.

She puts a focus on local legends, today telling the tale in which a Maori warrior named Kupe fought the giant octopus known as Te Wheke.

“I want to keep it connected to where we are.”

It wasn’t all storytelling however, as the children then got to perform mahunga pakahiwi, (head, shoulders, knees and toes).

Kiri Pounamu says it’s a challenge trying to keep their attention at times.

“But if you have enough to keep them occupied, they are going to learn.”

She says she hopes to make te reo in preschools the norm.

Head teacher at Busy Bees, Jemma Burn, says the children have been incredibly receptive.

“They are loving it and it’s really cool to see the number of children practising their pukana and songs.”