Northland Trip for Onehunga High School’s Year 11 Te Reo Māori class

30 August 2017

Hear about Charles Looker's (Cohort 2016) recent trip to Northland, Hokianga.

Charles, along with 7 students from his year 11 Te Reo Māori class have recently returned from a three-night trip to Northland, Hokianga. They stayed at Te Whakarongotai Marae, which was a space to find themselves in what can sometimes be a chaotic time of a school year, and to be inspired for their upcoming spoken language assessment.

We caught up with Charles to find out a little more about this trip.

What was the purpose of this trip?

Well, in a cheeky sense, the trip was planned for straight after the practise exam and about a week and a half before tournament week, so it was a bit of a break, a chance for the students to catch a breath and think about the year, think about what they’re doing, what they’re going to do and what they’ve done. It was a time of reflection and for them to catch up with each other and catch up with themselves.

Beyond that, Hokianga, the place we went to, is one of my favourite places.  Part of their NCEA speech exam is to be able to describe their favourite place to a friend in Māori. So I took them to the place I’ve been using as my example in class, for them to see all the things I’ve been talking about in the flesh. The hope was to inspire them as they do their one about their place and to gain confidence in spoken Māori. The reason we chose “describing our favourite place” as a topic is because it gave students an opportunity to talk about themselves, with the hope that it would instil some pride and confidence in being themselves in our classroom, in school, in our community, and in society in general (bigger picture stuff).

Tell us about what happened over the three days.

Over the three days we had guest speakers come in and talk to us and share stories of the area. They would first speak in Māori to the students and then translate it to English. While we were walking, they’d hint toward stories and we’d actually go past the area which the story was about. The students would ask lots of questions, like “what's the name of that hapu again?" and ”is this tree a totara matua?” – their curiosity was triggered and they’d be asking questions just because they were interested. That was the whole idea, that they become interested in the heritage, in the culture and in the language.

What was a key learning from you from the trip?

The trip reminded me that we can’t just teach students the language; we need to literally put the students in situations where it needs to be used. I’ve been taught to do that in the classroom but I just need to set aside a lesson where it’s not just doing tasks and “learning” as such, but where we just talk to each other in Māori and play games and have conversations. Just living and breathing it together.

What were the outcomes of this trip?

The end result for this trip was that these students can now use the experience to talk about their favourite place and describe that place of theirs to a friend. Hopefully the buzz they were feeling while we were up there is enough now for them to be interested or intrigued enough that we keep talking about it, that they might continue asking me questions about our language.