Exploring Māori Tikanga and the of Gifting Pounamu

Pounamu holds a special place in Māori culture, symbolising the connections between people, their ancestors, and the land. To make the learning experience meaningful, each student was given the chance to create a piece of pounamu that would carry personal significance. The jewellery is typically car…

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I gave my pounamu to Axel because he is my best friend because the symbol is spikey.

Room 13 and 14 have been learning about Māori tikanga, which are the customary practices and values that shape the Māori way of life, and reo Māori. Whanaungatanga (the connection between people) has huge importance in Tikanga Māori. Building and maintaining relationships through kindness and being able to respect each other for who they are,  is an important part of social development for students. Acknowledging the person and sharing how they are special to us allows whānau and friendships to flourish. Having connections with others is the base level but being able to maintain the relationship through respect and kindness is so important to have positive relationships in our lives. 


As a class we looked at what makes a good friend and how we can build and maintain relationships. We discussed what makes a good friend and how we show our appreciation of their friendship. A good friend is kind, caring, loyal and listens to us were the main traits of a good friend. Using this discussion we looked at the friendships that we have in our lives and who in our classroom space. Each student selected specific symbols that represented their friends, crafting a piece that represented the person in their relationship. Once the students have crafted their pounamu necklaces we have a small ceremony to present our gifts to our friends. Each student explained why they made them and how much they appreciate them as a friend.

I gave my pounamu to Laila because I love her. I gave her the symbol of manawa (heart).

Many students wanted to make their own necklaces, however Māori tikanga around pounamu is that it is to be gifted and shows an appreciation or affection for a loved one. Learning the cultural practices and reo (language) encouraged us to value and begin to understand Māori culture. Our journey to learn about Te Ao Maori (The World of Māori) allows us to take on the opportunity to be open minded about learning about another culture's wisdom and traditions, and for the chance to share our love and appreciation for our friends through the art of gifting.

I really wanted to make one for myself but I learnt that buying pounamu is for gifting to others so I made one for my friend and my mum because I care for them.

I made this one for Taya because she is a kind friend and sister.

I gave Van his fish hook shaped pounamu because he likes to go fishing.

2024 Te Whare

Briana Te Whare

Ko Pirongia te maunga (mountain)

Ko Waipa te awa (river)

Ko Tainui te waka 

Ko Ngati Maniapoto te iwi (tribe)

Ko Te Aharoa te marae

Ko Te Whare tōku whanau (family)

Ko Chris Te Whare tōku papa (dad)

Ko Michelle McEwan tōku mama (mum)

I tupu ake ahau i Tokoroa (I am from Tokoroa)

Ke Taupō koe e noho ana inaianei (I live in Taupō)

When I was 11 I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. Straight after high school I moved to Tauranga to study teaching and straight after university I started my first teaching job in Tokoroa. Most of my teaching journey has been in Tokoroa where I have taught from Year 0 to Year 8. Working in my hometown was an incredible experience as I got to work alongside people that I have grown up with and also alongside my own teachers who inspired me. 

Outside of teaching I love to be outdoors. Walks, going for trips in our makeshift camper and exploring our backyard with my partner fills my bucket.


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