Last week, I visited Lakeview Kindergarten at Waipukurau to listen to and talk to 20 or so kindergarten teachers about the history of the area and the telling of our stories.
They had drafted three stories around Kairakau, Ruataniwha plains and Lake Whatuma that included Maori history and whakapapa, as related to each location. They were written in language to excite the minds of pre-schoolers.
The three stories told about ancient ancestors, their works of manaaki, of hunting and gathering, of fishing, of preservation, of jealousy, of combat and of murder.
Told through a pre-5-year-old lens, in simple language, the stories were riveting, even to my trained ear, having been brought up on such stories.
The interesting thing is that the storytellers were mostly Pakeha women, who had researched written material and heard local authorities on tikanga and history, who informed them of the importance of these stories for future generations.
I wish I had heard these stories at primary school, and the evolving complexities of these stories as I graduated through the education system. The stories brought an authenticity, a new scholastic reference and a new educative texture to this sector of our learning environment.
Our aim is that each of our 90 marae will be able to relay their own histories and myriad stories, and publish them so that these resources are used to educate children of all backgrounds in their history of Ngati Kahungunu and Takitimu.
So although some communities are trying to keep Maori teaching and learning mediums out of communities, other communities, such as Lakeview Kindergarten and its sister kindergartens, are actively encouraging and promoting Maori history, Maori language and Maori thinking as part of their everyday mahi. Congratulations to those groups. The iwi will support this drive wherever there is an appetite.
Future shock is a book written by Alvin Toffler, who says that as people become more homogenous and forget their cultural past, generations later people will be shocked that they don't know who they are, or where they belong. The kindergarten teachers mentioned above will ensure that their children will grow up knowing their place in the world (turangawaewae), their history and culture (tikanga), and how to assist others to reach their potential (manaakitanga).
"Titiro whakamuri, kia haere whakamua. Look into the past to project your future."Ngahiwi Tomoana is the Chairman of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated