Learning Maori

by barbznz

The Kohanga was a success though not with out problems.The majority of the children had their mothers with them for the whole time including me.  Only a few children came on their own.  It was hard to get the really needy children in, their parents weren’t really into education and though it was really cheap, they had other priorities. 

There were also tribal issues from time to time. Power struggles. Manuhopukia was from up North and some in the area felt a local person should be in charge. But the reality was, this kohanga was on a school so having a trained teacher was seen as important and there was no one local with that experience. 

We were also a magnet for people from out side of the area. Since we had no tribal affiliations everyone was welcome. We even had a Canadian man bring his children.  

The day always started with karakia (prayers). I have a lovely photo of Simon leading karakia when he was a little older Most learning was by rote and song. I loved the singing. Matangi and I would get together and create new ones. We even translated Flick the little fire engine. I still remember most of the songs that  I learnt.  The reality was, I really had to try very hard to get not only the words right but also the actions. 

I also joined the Maori Women’s Welfare League, Not only did they umbrella the kohanga, they had a carving school down at the historic village in an old church. it caters for young men to try and keep them out of trouble with some success and later, there was a weaving school as well. 

I experienced so many things there, precious things that I will always carry with me. 

One the home front, we finally got the bathroom done.  Once the money came through we realised the quote was out of date. So we got a plumber in to the technical stuff and Marty did the building, painting and decorating. We managed to scrape together enough money to put in a separate shower.  The bath stuck out in the middle of the room so you could have a person on each side. The shower was on one side of the bath and the toilet on the other. It had two doors. A sliding one at the front and the small side door, our old wardrobe door. This meant you didn’t have to walk all the way around from the master bedroom.  And there was a handbasin with space for the wheelchair underneath.  It looked pretty good when it was finished. Thankfully Marty was and is very handy around the house. He has saved us a fortune.

The school year was coming to a close and the kids were really excited about Christmas. What’s more, Simone and Anna were coming to stay with us for the night so they would be there on Christmas morning.

It turned out to be one of the best Christmas’s ever. 

© Barbara Hart 2014 .