Ngāi Tahu Cultural Narratives in Schools

Cultural Narrative Image

The Ministry for Education is encouraging schools to more consistently recognise the history and ongoing presence of mana whenua. A key way of doing this is through the development of cultural narratives when a school site is being developed or significantly renovated. This was a core element of the Christchurch school rebuild process, in which relevant Ngāi Tahu entities played an active role.
We now have the opportunity to undertake similar work in the Otago region, and Aukaha is taking a lead in this project. A cultural narrative recognises the historical relationship between a specific area and its local hapū  and iwi by outlining the particularities of people and place that a school is part of. These narratives work towards achieving a common understanding of that heritage as well developing shared aspirations for the future.
A contract historian to Aukaha, Dr Michael Stevens, is just beginning to develop cultural narratives for some Otago schools. These highlight things like whakapapa, significant geographical and cultural sites, and historical events and processes.
Michael explains that, “through this work our hope is that Aukaha can enable both pupils and teachers to more fully understand the landscape in which they live. Māori history in the southern South Island is nationally significant in all sorts of ways and the area also contributed enormously to the political and economic resurgence of Ngāi Tahu as an iwi. The development of these cultural narratives are helpful ways in to this story, which are unevenly known and utilised in the education system at present.”
We look forward to sharing some of this work with whānau over the coming months.

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