He Pī Ka Rere Kaitiaki Day

Wikitoria Burdon and Raiha Johnson are creating tomorrow’s leaders at Invercargill’s Waverley Park School with the He Pī Ka Rere programme.

Teachers Raiha Johnson (Te Rarawa) and Wikitoria Burdon (Te Rarawa), of Waverley Park School in Invercargill, are fierce advocates for te reo me ona tikanga Māori. They were first introduced to He Pī Ka Rere in 2018 by Darrio and the team at Toi Tangata and have been hooked ever since. 

Although the kaupapa was designed for kohanga reo, they saw immediately how beneficial it would be to their kura auraki and took steps to trial it. The two teachers have since brought the kaupapa into their school, using it with their tauira on a daily basis as well as during the weekly Ngā Taonga Māori Enrichment Programme – which has a Māori centric curriculum. 

The He Pī Ka Rere programme was so well received, Wiki and Raiha developed the Kaitiaki Programme where they train tamariki to become kaitiaki of the kaupapa, acting as tuākana across the school.

“We are so excited about how much the tamariki love it and engage with the mātauranga Māori,” says Wiki. “They are absolutely thriving as leaders in our kura, leading their peers, taking teina, and teaching their teachers.” 

The kaupapa is now so popular that the Kaitiaki Day has doubled in size since its inaugural event last year, now boasting 40 tauira.

“The tamariki are learning so much and they aren’t even aware they’re learning,” says Raiha. “They just think they’re out there having fun and we’re watching their skills grow.”

The main benefit of the Kaitiaki Day is the opportunities it gives tamariki to be leaders, and while He Pī Ka Rere is enjoyed by all tamariki, it is especially engaging for tamariki Māori.

“We have noticed a big difference in their presence, how they portray themselves and their confidence has grown so much in being up in front of their akomanga, showing them how to do the movements,” says Wiki.

“It’s a really rewarding part of the kaupapa when the kids are no longer reliant on us (kaiako) as we’re not here all the time,” says Raiha. “It ensures the kaupapa is sustainable and really embedded in the tamariki.”

The teachers believe He Pī Ka Rere has the potential to be embraced by schools across the motu. 

“We are so passionate about He Pī Ka Rere and believe it can traverse kohanga reo. It has given our kura and our tamariki so much,” says Raiha. “However, it is something you have to take with your whole heart. It can’t be watered down. You have to stay true to the wairua of the programme and act as a kaitiaki for the mātauranga that is being shared.”