On the last day of Kumeroa School’s Bush Curriculum Isla Desmond and Eve Sowry won best dish in the Kea class’ campfire cook-off.
Their dish? French toast with bacon, banana and blueberries - with a side of confidence.
The Kea Class (Years 5-8) has spent Term 4 bush days developing their cooking skills over an open fire. This was the final challenge.
“In the style of MasterChef, the brief was to cook a dish over an open fire that was both savoury and sweet and required at least two steps of preparation,” says class teacher Ainsley Massarotto.
The catch? They had to set and light the fire themselves - something that was particularly challenging on a damp and misty Monday.
“While heating sausages on sticks and toasting marshmallows are still delicious bush treats that we enjoy, I knew our senior children were capable of more. So I set this task which challenged them to go beyond their comfort zone - they did amazingly well,” Ainsley says.
Kumeroa School runs the Bush Curriculum (fondly referred to as Papatūānuku) up at Pattison’s Bush each Term 1 and Term 4. In the Māori worldview, Papatūānuku is Mother Earth, the land that gives birth to all things, including humankind, and provides the physical and spiritual basis for life.
Drawing further from matauranga Māori, at Kumeroa School children have experiences that reflect the values of kaitiaki (guardianship), whakapapa (ancestral connections) and manaakitanga (respect) in relation to the land, plants and other living creatures.
The children take age-appropriate and supervised risks such as making small fires, climbing trees and woodcraft. They develop both confidence and practical skills that foster resilience, problem-solving, and self-sufficiency.
“My favourite part is building huts and making campfires,” says Levi Aguilar (Year 4).
“I like the mudslide!” calls out his brother Raphael (Year 2).
Lucy Stone, the Fantail Class teacher who helped establish the programme in February 2020, says, “Papatūānuku days are about firing up the learning engine on a Monday in readiness for the coming week. The confidence and resilience grown in the immersion into the native bush is something very hard or impossible to replicate in four walls.”