Toku maunga - Ko Putauaki
Toku awa - Ko Rangitaiki
Toku marae - Ko Kokohinau
Toku hapu - Ko Pahipoto
It has been said that indigenous people like myself will bring prior knowledge to the fore and always relate back to what is known through whānaungatanga, whakapapa or genealogy. The four lines mentioned above as my pepeha share that I am strongly connected not only to Pahipoto a sub-tribe of the Ngatiawa people who reside in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, but also to significant places like Putauaki the mountain and Rangitaiki our local river.
Keeping it very simple, whānaungatanga for me is a sense of unity and togetherness amongst people.
The Professional Teaching Criteria associated with Whānaungatanga
PTC1 is about ethical, respectful, positive, and collaborative professional relationships.
Fully registered teachers establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga. Key indicators:
o Engage in ethical, respectful, positive, and collaborative professional relationships with:
- teaching colleagues, support staff, and other professionals
- whānau, extended whānaunga and other carers of ākonga/learners
- agencies, groups, and individuals in the community.
How could I tell someone about Whānaungatanga?
Whānaungatanga is based on human relationships. From a maori perspective the term has a number of meanings and encompasses important values like manaakitanga, wairuatanga etc.
What is my alternative explanation of Whānaungatanga?
What I am, think, feel and do evolves around the relationships I have with people and so I believe that whānaungatanga is my purpose in life and primary reason for my being. Developing an awareness of whānaungatanga starts with me as ‘ko au’ - the centre of my universe. This is the place where I am concerned with my own wellbeing and successes in life.
As I move in and out of this personal space to include interactions and relationships with my whānau, whānaunga and extended others, I see things from a less self-centred approach. Everything changes.
It does not matter what specific actions I take or the skills that I learn on this journey. What matters is whānaungatanga – I am ‘bigger than just myself’ and that I am purposefully making a difference in the lives of others.
What impact might Whānaungatanga have on my practice?
As I understand whānaungatanga is about:
• Creating educationally powerful connections with family, whānau and communities
• Kotahitanga as whānau bonding and developing approaches that are responsive to family requests and needs
• Building effective relationships and encouraging whānau engagement
• Reciprocal ako as tri-communication between teachers, students and whānau that promotes share ownership of and responsibility for learning with well-known benefits in engagement and achievement
• Sustaining conditions of relational trust
What are the positives of Whānaungatanga?
I like that whānaungatanga ensures that my culturally responsive classroom is:
• an orderly, safe and supportive environment where students of whom I am most fortunate to learn alongside, work best
• a proactive learning environment where students are encouraged to foster growth mind sets and learning how and why the brain that does the work does the learning
• a whānau-centred thinking environment where relationships are crucial, knowledge is shared and learning connections are made.
What are the challenges of Whānaungatanga?
Whānaungatanga and building effective relationships for me can often mean:
• demonstrating manaakitanga as pastoral care when meeting families for the first time
• supporting or directing families to external agencies should they request assistance
• providing a general awareness of te reo me ona tikanga o Ngati Awa as the language, values and culture of our area to families who are new or unfamiliar with the concepts
• empowering whānau to organise and lead school events
• valuing the powerful connections with students and their whānau as they continue on from my classroom
What am I wondering about Whānaungatanga?
• If my understanding of whānaungatanga as a Maori is the same as that of my tauiwi colleagues, friends and whānau?
• If the concept of whānaungatanga will evolve or change significantly over time?
"My husband Thomas is European and we have been married approximately 20 years. I asked him whether his understanding of whānaungatanga has evolved over time because he married me, into my family and iwi. He replied yes and that the exposure has also had a positive ripple effect on his Mum and Dad and siblings".
Whose Voice is not being heard?
As my koroua or grandfather was the Paramount Chief of Ngati Awa, I often think what his understanding of whānaungatanga and also that of my Nanny Pareake, may have been.
"We moved to Te Teko when I was five years old and stayed with them for a short time. I learnt about the importance of growing kumara and riwai as a whanau and gathering kai from the land. I watched my Nan make whariki or mats and my Koro feed the chooks then plant flax. They hardly ever spoke, I learnt a lot about whanau values in that silence. It was I guess 'a form of respect' and when they did talk to us it was in Maori so I was forced to understand the language. That I certainly did not mind".