Passionate Performers

Teachers in the Te Huka Team discussed how we would introduce Passion Projects to our students as part of our inquiry-based learning.

Passion Projects are a project-based learning experience where the group’s interests, strengths and passions are developed with guidance from the teacher. Students collaborate, cooperate, communicate and create in a shared and authentic learning experience. As the students are juniors and this was the first experience they had had with Passion Projects it was decided that three options would be available for our students to choose what they wanted to explore further. I would be offering the opportunity to create a performance that could include drama, dance and music.

Students from across the Te Huka Team came together excitedly. The challenge now was how do we create a performance? I started reading The Fish of Māui and as I read I posed questions about how we could retell different parts of the story using drama. Liam suggested that while the canoe was being paddled the waiata Utaina could be sung. Immediately, some of the students who belong to the junior Kapa Haka wanted to do this. Then other students wanted to take on the parts of Māui and his brothers. We discussed how we could introduce music. As we had been playing xylophones, as part of our Maths learning repeating patterns in Room 12, Lizzie suggested we could use those.

On Wednesday afternoons until our Celebration Assembly in Week 8 we worked on creating our performance. Initially, the three different groups (actors, dancers and musicians) worked separately as they explored and developed their ideas. Then the groups joined the different elements together. Students decided what they would work on in our next session. All the five key competencies (Managing Self, Thinking, Participating and Contributing, Relating to Others, Using Language, Symbols and, Text) were part of the learning.

“Key competencies are the capabilities people have, and need to develop, to live and learn today and in the future.” - The New Zealand Curriculum Online







Creating a performance for assembly was something that all the students wanted to be part of therefore they were all active contributors. They all wanted the performance to be the best that it could be so they gave each other and acted on constructive feedback. It was a productive way to explore the different arts techniques and elements. Analytical, creative, co-operative, and problem-solving skills were developed as well.

“Ko Toi te uri o Mahara Pòhewa. Art is the child of Imagination.” - The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum

Some comments from the performers:

Zoe B  The music for the fish dance was good. It was tinkly.


Performers te huka team dancing the fish dance

Dallas  We did good on the paddling part because we weren’t going around in circles. We were paddling on both sides.

Wiki  I was proud of ourselves when we did the fish dance and the boil and churn dance. The music was really right when they hit the drums and played the xylophones.


Performers te huka team the boil and churn dance

‘The arts are powerful forms of personal, social, and cultural expression. They are unique “ways of knowing” that enable individuals and groups to create ideas and images that reflect, communicate, and change their views of the world. The arts stimulate imagination, thinking, and understanding. They challenge our perceptions, uplift and entertain us, and enrich our emotional and spiritual lives.’ - The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum

Some comments from the audience:

Harry  I liked it when the four brothers did the whispering planning because they looked really sneaky.


Passionate performers Te Huka team actors on stage

Eric  I liked when Daniel was pretending to be sleeping and then he popped his head up a little to listen. That was really funny.

Evie  I think it would have been better if the four brothers had actually pretended to pull the fish up to the waka before they started hacking it.

Zoe R  I liked when Māui heaved and pulled. He looked really strong.


Passionate performers Te Huka team dramatic music

The passion demonstrated by the performers showed how student ownership, student learning, quality product and community contribution can bring joy to learning.


Keywords: passion projects, inquiry, 

passionate performers te huka team actors 2