Te whare wānanga

This work aims to raise confidence to speak Te Reo Māori, live by Māori values and discuss Māori issues, by bringing the whare wānanga into any space.

Wānanga is when Māori gather to learn, discuss, deliberate and consider anything of importance. The work also empowers you with the similar feeling you get when waking up in the embrace of your own wharenui.

I wanted to get children involved in making their own family a space to wānanga, so it is a work they help to create. It comes flat and precut, to easily send to those whānau living faraway from their tūrangawaewae. Once made, and taken into a dark room, place a mobile phone with the torch light on inside the whare, to project the look of heke (rafters) from the customary Maori house. Tamariki can see that size does not matter, what matters is the spirit within that can shine out. My tamariki have loved including this in our nighttime routine, they gained a new confidence to recite their pepeha, karakia and waiata. It also calms them right down before sleep and makes a much more interesting environment for storytime.

The kowhaiwhai patterns on the heke are 100 mangopare standing on top of eachother to give eachother strength, this was also a tribute to my own iwi Ngāti Rakaipaaka whakatauki “Te whare rau o Te Tahinga” The hundred houses of Te Tahinga, to us we are all equal and we understand the strength in numbers when we unite. The tāhuhu at the top has my interpretation of the tino rangatiratanga flag, to remind us that we determine who we are.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is printed on the inside and signatures enlarged on the outside to add to their mana and ensure we remember the Treaty is a living document we should be led by. I have been inspired by the massive efforts to revitalise our reo and be taught indigenous history. I know in my own journey, the hardest thing as a learner is trying to find spaces I feel comfortable speaking in. So I hope this helps provide fun, easily accessible Māori spaces anywhere you need it.

ECC New Zealand Student Craft/Design Awards 2019 – Highly Commended award.

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