Ehara i te tī! You only live once!

Ehara i te tī! Draws from a whakatauki about Tī kouka-Cabbage trees which almost always grow again when cut back. We, are unlike the mighty Tī, we only get the one life.

Heoi anō-However we do feel some whakawhānaungatanga with our beloved cabbage tree in our journey with Te Reo Māori. Kirsten and I are life long learners of Te Reo Māori and we are, to date, eternal beginners! We have been "cut back" on our missions with te reo, through long periods absence, busy (disruptive) life events and times when our emphasis was just elsewhere. But we always returned to the security of our culture, we feel reassured- not by our fluency and prowess with Te Reo but by our own dogged commitment to learning a beautiful language.


Like the Tī kouka that has been cut back we really started to thrive with Te Reo Māori when some new shoots appeared! Our tamariki are the impetus and the constant reminder to us to keep learning, keep trying and keep using Te Reo Māori in our lives.

Te Reo Māori should be normalised in every single day but we think Te wiki ō Te Reo Māori is the pīwari-perfect time to take stock and renew commitments. This year we were blown away by the out pour of aroha for Te Reo on so many fronts. It seemed that everyone had been saving up their best ideas and mahi for te wiki. The media was awash with initiatives to whakamana te reo, new business idea's were launched, books were released, exhibitions were hosted, performances were enjoyed, hui were attended, noho were enjoyed! We felt the potential, we recognised the uplift. A momentum is certainly building. Even when cut back the Tī kouka grows and it's growing whānau-its growing! Whakatipua Raki!



This year for Te wiki o Te Reo Māori Kirsten and I got together to celebrate. We took our waiata and pūrakau stories to the Selwyn District where the libraries had invited us especially to share with their communities. We are always VERY nervous about appearances like this! What if really amazing Reo Māori experts are there critiquing us?! What if we stumble? Mix up our ō's and our tō's?! But we practice, and research and practice some more. We rely on our humour, our (iffy at best) singing voices and pretty illustrations to help us charm the crowds! And you know what? It is a beautiful thing, an honour to get out there and share some Te Reo Māori and to have the efforts and earnest attempts of others shared with us.


Te Rito Maioha-Early Childhood NZ conference 2017

Te kōhungahunga pūtake taiao, he ngakau hihiko

Nature based ECE. Vibrant and Vital!


Kirsten and I were honoured to be part of Te rito maioha-NZEC conference 2017.  We would like to sincerely thank Te pūtahitanga Te Waipounamu for making it possible for Reo Pēpi to attend. The theme for this years gathering was Te kōhungahunga pūtake taiao, he ngakau hihiko-Nature based ECE. Vibrant and Vital!

First up we heard from Rangimarie Naida Glavish, who spoke on Mokopuna, Our Natural Born Teachers. A national taonga herself, Rangimarie explored with us the enormous opportunities available to enhance the wellbeing of all society through the nurture of our mokopuna as our taonga. Our leaders to be treasured by us all. She reminded us that when we call "Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai..." we repeat three times to acknowledge and invite te hinengaro, te tinana, te wairua-the mind, body and spirit. And that we should all consider these three aspects when working holistically with tamariki.

Respect and treasure tamariki. Āe marika!

The amazing MRI brain scan images from Louise Dorrat, showed us the extremely rapid growth of the human brain from 0-3 and relatively gradual growth from then on. We saw the vital importance of nurturing our youngest people in their early years!

Make sure those first three-five years are nurturing, stable and stimulating. Āe marika!

David Spraggs from the Gisborne Kindergarten Association shared his memories and learning from time he spent in the Forest Kindergartens of Europe and Scandinavia. His assurance that children are best educated naturally and outdoors was compelling. Research evidence shows children educated predominantly outdoors are better communicators with advanced intellectual and motor skills, fewer difficulties sitting still and concentrating, less aggression and fewer illnesses than their indoor educated peers!

Take tamariki into te taiao-the natural world as much as possible! Āe marika!

Mr. Spraggs also presented the research findings of Ken Rowe an Australian researcher in ECE who found that variances in educational performance are influenced by the following factors: 5.5% Building and resources, 35% social interactions with other children and a whopping 59% by the teachers! Even though we are in the business of providing education resources to educators...We can see that many of our ECE organisations may have reverse priorities in their budgets. As always that is a bit disturbing.

Pay teachers more? Āe marika!

Sandra Tuhakaraina presented on her research into sustaining kaiako use of Te Reo Māori in their practice post teacher education.  Sandra is a 2nd language learner who earned her stripes first and foremost with Te Kōhanga Reo in the early 80's. She told us about the kaumātua who taught her then, how they would stand at the Kōhanga door every morning and karanga..."Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai..." inviting the mātua again and again to answer the call and bring their tamariki foward.

Sandra reminded us that Te Reo Māori is recognised as a protected taonga under te tiriti o waitangi and that all ECE kaiako have a responsibility to support tamariki to experience te reo as a living and valued language. Her research findings showed resoundingly the depth of feeling and understanding among kaiako of their role to uphold the treaty and present our children with rich and consistent experiences of te reo me ona tikanga Māori.

Throughout the hui we saw the love of te reo that was instilled in the kaiako Māori and Pākeha alike, everytime one of them stepped up to our display and smiled at our pukapuka. We recognised the depth of feeling the kaiako have for Te Reo Māori, Te Ao Māori in our exchanges with them. We were able to connect meaningfully with educators, we learnt about current ECE research and current best practice. We were inspired by whakaaro-ideas for the future face of education, for our tamariki and mokopuna.

Te reo me ona tikanga Māori are upheld and championed within NZ Early Childhood Education! Āe marika!


Matariki ki tua o ngā whetū - Matariki of endless possibilities
— Dr. Rangi Matamua

In the Northern hemisphere they celebrate Christmas and New Year in the depths of winter.  In Aotearoa we have a wonderful reason to mark mid-winter-Matariki. We see so many ECE centres, playcentres, kura and kōhanga making the most of Matariki and the opportunities for learning. Here we share some answers to pātai about Matariki based on our own recent learning. We hope it encourages you to celebrate our unique NZ culture in your own way this (new) year.

What is Matariki?

Matariki is a cluster of stars traditionally associated with and celebrated as the dawning of the new year by Māori.

Why do we celebrate Matariki?

The first and foremost purpose of celebrating Matariki is to acknowledge tīpuna. The mauri and the wairua of those gone from this world before us, both in the year past and their ancestors too, right back to the beginnings of whakapapa. So whatever our plans for Matariki we should remain mindful of this and keep aroha in our hearts.

How was Matariki traditionally observed?

Traditionally a sacrificial feast would be ritually prepared in a special oven. Selected food symbolically charged and corresponding to the stars would be included. On the night Matariki rose in the sky the names of the e ngā mate-the years dead would be chanted through the night, memories of them reviewed, as they symbolically released to the eternal cosmos. When the  the steam rose from the cooking process it acted both as a cleansing process for the years concerns while also carrying hopes and aspirations for the coming year to the heavens.

How was Matariki tradionally celebrated?

Matariki rose at a time when the hunting, gathering and harvesting of food was completed for the season. Then people had time for remembering, reflection and celebration during Matariki. Festivities were held which included kai, waiata and haka. The timing allowed people pause to enjoy pleasurable pastimes including games, arts, stories and connection to the natural world.

How is Matariki celebrated now?

Since the 1990’s New Zealanders have been reviving the ancient practice of celebrating Matariki in many and varied ways. Celebrations with food, singing and dancing. Activities that bring people together, to observe the stars and the Winter night sky. Creative fun, such as  making kites or lanterns, storytelling, music and arts.  The SKY is really the limit in planning for marking Matariki-an ancient tradition that feels wonderfully unique in modern times.

How do we know when Matariki is?

Māori based their lives on a Lunar calendar while we now observe the Solar calendar, the complexities of this system mash up explain the perpetual mysteries and confusion around modern day Matariki timing. Dr. Rangi Matamua (author of Matariki-Star of the year) has said that for 2017 Matariki will be visible in the night sky from around the 17th of June-his astronomical know how points us in the right direction for timing our celebrations well.

How can we find the Matariki stars

From mid-late June, just before sunrise, look to the north-east horizon. Find the constellation Tautoru, sometimes called ‘The Pot’ or ‘Orion’s Belt’. Trace a line northwards from the three stars of Tautoru. Look for a faint sparkle of tiny dots, about the same width as Tautoru is long. This is the Matariki star cluster.

Tīramarama ngā whetū

Ngā tuāhine e iwa

Tiramarama Matariki ē

Ka kitea i te moata ē

Hei whakanui i te Tau Hou

O te iwi Māori e Matariki ē !

 The bright shining stars

The nine sisters

Shining bright for Matariki

You’ll see them early morning

Celebrating the Māori New Year

It is Matariki e!

Download Reo Pēpi Matariki rauemi colouring sheet here

Download Reo Pēpi Matariki rauemi story here

Download Reo Pēpi Matariki rauemi story 2 here