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Te Whāriki and Aotearoa New Zealand's histories (ANZH)

Histories tell stories of relationships with people, places, and things.

It is often through local stories that we gain rich insights into these relationships and how events of the past impact on today.

These stories align to the bicultural intentions of the principles in Te Whāriki:

  • Whakamana | Empowerment
  • Kotahitanga | Holistic development
  • Whānau tangata | Family and community
  • Ngā hononga | Relationships

Culturally responsive, local curriculum design begins with the histories, narratives, pakiwaitara (stories), and pūrākau (ancient stories) of not just the place where your service is located physically. It also incorporates the histories of the people, places, and things of significance to the whānau and tamariki who attend your service.

Find below stories of practice and kaiako experiences that use stories from our shared histories to inform local curriculum and kaiako practice to show the principles in action.

  • Stories of practice

    Stories of practice Stories of practice

    Tūrangawaewae: giving children a place to stand at Te Rourou Whakatipuranga O Awarua

    Watch this video from the stories of practice on the Identity, language, and culture page.

    See the way the kaiako weave the stories from the past into the strengths of the pēpi and tamariki and their curriculum.

    The importance of wai

    Waikato River

    At a Puna Reo in the Waikato, upholding Tainui tikanga by recognising the status of the Waikato awa/river to the people of the rohe/region informs their learning priorities. They explore the importance of water with pēpi and tēina.

    The significance of water to the education and learning of pēpi and tēina is also reflected in whakarite/practices such as utilising water and karakia to physically, spiritually, and emotionally heal and support wellbeing.

    This involves placing a ‘oko wai koiora’ or water bowl in a central place within the centre and encouraging toddlers to sprinkle water on themselves when feeling sad, lonely, or hurt.

    Interactions with Ranginui/Sky Father are also encouraged with opportunities for infants and toddlers to experience and make connections to the ua/rain as a means of supporting the physical and spiritual connectedness with Ranginui.

    Small groups of toddlers also take trips to the Waikato awa as a way of acknowledging their tūpuna/ancestors, whakapapa, and spiritual connectedness.

    This is part of a story of practice on the Infants and toddlers page.

    Extending oral storytelling by adding local, placed-based stories

    Felt story created by the children.

    At Christchurch Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten, kaiako became aware of ways they could be extending their rich oral storytelling tradition by adding more local, place-based stories to their repertoire.

    They have gained knowledge of these through attendance at Early Years Community Cluster meetings, and by using the Ngāi Tahu Atlas, a resource of place names, history, and stories.

    This has led to them prioritising the following actions:

    • investigating the story behind how the school came to be named “Te Ara Korowai” – cloak around the school – who gave this name and why
    • telling a story of how the creatures of the awa lived during walks with tamariki
    • creating stories in the Steiner tradition, for example, felt puppets and mats that are built around the people and creatures who once lived in the local area
    • adding these local stories to tamariki “Journey Books” which travel between home and centre, so parents/whānau benefit and contribute as well.

    When it comes to evaluating the impact of their actions, kaiako will look for:

    • more reenactment of local stories through the drawings and artwork initiated by children
    • references to local stories in children’s everyday conversations
    • whānau enthusiasm about the focus on local curriculum.

    Representing and respecting elements of both kaupapa Māori and Steiner fairytale is bringing challenge, joy, satisfaction, and learning for kaiako.

    This story is one of the stories of practice on the Identity, language, and culture page.

    Relationship with local museum can enrich children's learning

    A research paper looking at an early childhood setting close to Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand noted how other early childhood services could make use of their local museums. They also noted that even very small settlements around the country will often have a local museum.

    Developing a relationship with a local museum, offers opportunities to enrich children’s learning about local history from multiple perspectives and encourages a deeper understanding of the history and partnership brought by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It can also provide connections to the physical landscape.


    Clarkin-Phillips, J., Paki, V., Fruean, L., Armstrong, G., & Crowe, N. (2012). Exploring te ao Māori: The role of museums. Early Childhood Folio, 16(1), 10–14.

    This is part of a story of practice on the Identity, language, and culture page.

    Stories of practice
  • Kaiako experiences

    Kaiako experiences Kaiako experiences

    Wisdom of our tīpuna and the 28th Māori battalion

    • Transcript

      Transcript Transcript

      Erana: Ko Pātangata te maunga, ko Wharekahika te awa Ko Hinemaurea te marae, ko Ngāti Porou te iwi, ko Tūwhakairiora te hapū, ko Horouta te waka. Ko wai ahau? Ko Erana Haerewa ahau. Nō Wharekahika, nō Ngāti Porou hoki. Ko au te kaihautū o te waka o Te Puna Reo Puhi Kaiti. Tokoono ōku tamariki, tokowaru ōku mokopuna. Kei a ratou aku taonga mō apōpō. Tēnei te mihi ki a koutou i tēnei rā.

      My name is Erana Haerewa and I am the tumuaki of Te Puna Reo Puhi Kaiti. We are a Māori immersion centre, licensed for 37 tamariki. We have 11 kaiako within our team and our curriculum delivery is based on Ngāti Poroutanga. My leadership role here at Te Puna Reo is guided by a well known Ngāti Porou leader, Tā Apirana Turupa Ngata – 'E tipu e rea', tōna whakatauākī.

      E tipu e rea mō ngā rā o tō ao Ko tō ringa ki ngā rākau a te Pākehā Hei oranga mō tō tinana Ko tō ngākau ki ngā tāonga a ō tīpuna Māori Hei tikitiki mō tō māhunga Ko tō wairua ki te atua Nānā nei ngā mea katoa

      This whakatauākī, it drives me in my leadership role and my team as he states, go forward and take the tools of the Pākehā so I’m looking at taking the best tools to enrich the learning for our tamariki Māori here at Te Puna Reo and also holding onto my values of my tīpuna and guided with respect for the tamariki, respect for my teachers who I have alongside me.

      In kaiako hui I share whakataukī, I share books that I’ve read, I share research, I’m an avid reader, I love research. If I’m going to be expecting excellence, I’ve got to be modelling excellence to my staff and working alongside them and showing them that I am actively engaged and that I am driving the waka with a vision of excellence.

      Guided by the strength of our Māori leaders in education and inspired and motivated to create an atmosphere of learning here at Puna Reo where it’s innovative, where it’s creative, where teachers aren’t held down, where they’re inspired to go outside the box.

      Sometimes the waka goes a bit wobbly and I have to have hard conversations and remind our teachers about our tīpuna that went to war to fight for the price of citizenship and about the hard work and the sacrifices that they made. So that’s a little technique that I have and because we all resonate with the 28th Māori battalion and the mana that they had for the struggles and for the commitment that they had for te iwi Māori, ko tēnā te mea nui ki Te Puna Reo.


    This is a section from the video on slide six of the Leadership for learning downloadable workshop on exploring leadership for learning and what it means for you.

    Knowing your place

    • Transcript

      Transcript Transcript

      Narrator: Here is an opportunity to broaden your thinking about place. Bearing in mind what Te Whāriki says, “The expectation is that each early childhood service will use Te Whāriki as a basis for weaving with tamariki, parents, and whānau its own local curriculum of valued learning, taking into consideration also the aspirations and learning priorities of hapū, iwi, and community.” (p. 8)

      On the slide you can see some ideas to consider when discussing place-based learning.

      Do you know what flora is indigenous in your region? Who planted those old trees?

      What do you know about colonisation in your area?

      What are the stories about your town, your area, your place?

      Who are your local heroes – past and present?

      What are the special places in your community and why?

      A great deal has been written already about deciding what learning matters so in this slide we offer you a different way to think about it.

      This model comes from a well known Professor of Law, Laura Lundy, who was concerned that children’s views were overlooked in matters that concern them, and that too often, the grown-ups, like kaiako, made assumptions about what tamariki thought and felt. Each box in the matrix represents an important element of the conversation.

      Laura Lundy came up with an idea for us adults to use when considering what matters to tamariki, which can be applied to how we think about what learning matters. For example, the Space box incorporates place-based learning. It alerts us to the physical environment where we hold conversations about what learning matters.

      Where do you talk to parents and tamariki? What else is going on? What resources support your conversations about place and learning? Think about the unknown, the spiritual, and the places in between.

      Think about Voice: Who speaks? Whose voices are heard? Who is not heard?

      Audience is very important: Who do you talk to? Is it the same people all the time? Who is not in the room? What will you do about what you have heard?

      This is the Influence box. This is a mechanism for holding you accountable for what you have heard – there is an expectation that you will act on that. And remember: Keep it real, relevant, and rewarding.

      Have a go at the Space box. How do you facilitate a discussion about what learning matters to your service? Where do you talk to parents and tamariki? What else is going on in that space?

      What resources support your conversations about place and learning? And remember, think about the unknown, the spiritual, and the spaces in between.

      Talking about what learning matters is a good place to begin thinking about curriculum design, and it's also essential to discussions about Matika, maranga – a call to action.”


    This is a section of Webinar 1 in the Matika Maranga series: Designing local curriculum.

    Focus on Pacific visual languages and culture

    Patterns drawn by children inspired by the art from their Pacific Island.

    In an article in The First Years Journal Ngā Tau Tuatahi, Susana Smith asks for greater focus on Pacific visual languages and culture in early learning services.

    She argues for the use of Pacific patterns, symbols, metaphor, and narratives to affirm, connect, and awaken the Pacific creative spirit.

    Because of “the privileging of Western histories, theories, practices, and discourses”, Pacific visual languages and cultures are “in danger of becoming mere artefacts of curiosity, rather than a living curriculum.”

    • Look into the particular stories and art practices that are unique to your families, and the countries, districts, and villages they come from.
    • Draw inspiration from the work of artists and storytellers that share the Pacific cultures you aspire to support and nurture.
    • Let children learn from the expertise of elders in ways that inspire them – the children – to create.


    Smith, S. (2018). “Tau tufuga Niue: Contextualising arts in the early years within Aotearoa New Zealand”, The First Years: Ngā Tau Tuatahi, New Zealand Journal of Infant and Toddler Education, 20 (1): 24-27.

    Kaiako experiences