Mana Elizabeth Hunkin – Tertiary Teaching Excellence Teaching Profile
Teaching profile from Mana Elizabeth Hunkin (Te Tumuaki Te Kura Motuhake o Te Ataarangi) – Award for Sustained Excellence Teaching in a Kaupapa Māori Context 2012.
‘My strength is not of one, but of many.’
I liken myself to a waka hewn from a tree that was felled in Nuhaka by my elders who instilled Te reo and tikanga Māori in me. This was the beginning of the fashioning of my waka.
At 12 years of age my waka set sail for Turakina Māori Girls’ College where I was taught how to write Te reo Māori before my waka set sail again for Wellington Teachers’ College where I graduated as a Primary School Teacher. My waka had now received some carvings.
Then I met Ngoingoi Pewhairangi and Dame Katerina Mataira and their way of teaching Te reo Māori of Te Ataarangi. It was here that my waka received its ‘karu’ (eyes) and I realised that I wanted to teach te reo Māori. Then my Aunt took ill, and my waka set sail back to Nuhaka.
My thanks go out to all of the whānau who gave me strength, also I would like to thank the Ataarangi Whānau in Wairoa and also the nation-wide Ataarangi whānau – this award belongs to you all.
“So you will not be lost my chiefly language.”
My philosophy hails from my being fortunate to have grown up at the feet of my elders. I bring to my teaching the treasures from their world, like aroha and manaakitanga, treasures they instilled in me so that I could feed them to our students to help to strengthen them in this changing world. Add to these treasures the ‘ngākau māhaki’, or ‘caring heart’, which Te Ataarangi has taught me and there you have the philosophy of our kura. Our most important objective is to teach Māori in Māori, even although it is difficult at first for the students, but if they keep at it they learn so much faster.
It is difficult to learn Te reo Māori if you have grown up in a predominately Pākehā world, one where Te reo Māori wasn’t spoken, one that did not experience things Māori, and also one that did not impart any pride in things Māori. The majority of our students hail from that sort of background. One of the first things we have to do is to feed this pride into our students, then we see their heads lifting, only then can we begin to teach them. We not only teach Te reo, but also respect one for another.
We are always searching for ways of assisting the students to learn Te reo. Sometimes the local elders come to speak to the students, other times we go to the marae to learn. We use Te Ataarangi methodology as we have seen the results. The students make a picture using the ‘rākau’ (wooden rods) and seeing the picture helps them to quickly work out the meaning of the words. No matter what level they are studying at, whether it be at the beginning, or at the Diploma Level 6, the rods are used very successfully. The rākau can explain, in Māori, the grammar of the reo, or show the beginner the difference between ‘nāku’, ‘nāu’, and ‘nāna’, as well as how the more competent learner can illustrate the “Creation of Man.’ What a wonderful resource the rākau are !!
“You will be seen by the world, and your Māori people, by what you do.”
In our kura we show ‘manaakitanga’, eg, the students work in groups to organize our lunch. Whichever group is responsible for that day will cook and serve everyone at the kura, even our visitors. This is manaakitanga in action. Many of our students have returned to their marae to karanga or be the spokesperson, or just as importantly, to help in the kitchen. This is so good for the whānau. Many of our marae are standing, left by their more experienced whānau who have moved to the larger towns to get work. These students are helping to hold the ‘mana o te marae.”
Some of our students have gone to the Wānanga, or Universities, to further their education. One of our ex-students is a Research Analyst for our Iwi.
“Seek out the distant horizons and cherish those you attain !’
What of the future? Firstly, to be able to deliver a Bachelor Course would be wonderful as we have been wanting to do this for some time. Secondly, to have te reo Māori spoken throughout our area is another of my dreams, as we have started a programme “Kia rere te reo i te Kāinga.” (So the language will be heard at home !)
I would like to thank Ako Aotearoa for the grant that went with the award. Ever since our kura started the elders have been coming in to speak to our students in Te reo Māori. All of these sessions are on video tapes. I would like to transcribe all of these tapes onto DVDs and write down all their stories into a book for all of those who love Te reo. It may take a little time but I will endeavour to complete this project.
Peer and student feedback
The success of Te Ataarangi is its ability to meet students on their own home ground, on their own terms. As a flax-roots movement, Te Ataarangi does not have the same public profile as established institutions of higher learning. It relies on networks of local training establishments like Te Kura Motuhake o Te Ataarangi in Wairoa.
Without successful PTEs, the cultural integrity of the revitalisation of te reo Māori, as a movement led by the people themselves, might have been compromised. So I believe all New Zealanders owe people like Liz Hunkin a debt of gratitude for their decision not to pursue academic status and personal remuneration in their teaching careers. Instead Liz and others put the needs of the community first, and develop programmes and institutions at the local level to achieve social and cultural transformation at a national level.
Hon. Dr Pita Sharples
The outcomes from Te Kura Motuhake have been outstanding over the years in the reo as well as in conventional learning and employment, but also in changing people’s lives. Many of the learners on these programmes have come from generational unemployment and, in some cases, have had unfortunate experiences with the law. It is not merely the individual learner who has gained in self-respect and self-esteem but their whole whānau who have followed their example and become lifelong learners. The Te Ataarangi philosophy of ngākau māhaki has been a great part of Whaea Liz’s teaching approach.
Education Advisor Contractor