Te Kotahitanga Kaumatua Whakaruruhau
Kaumatua (elders) Whakaruruhau (sheltering mantle)
Members of the Kaumatua Whakaruruhau reflect on their role in support of the wider Te Kotahitanga whanau (extended family) to make a difference for Māori students. Their work began with the gathering of the narratives of experience in 2001. They have been working with Te Kotahitanga ever since.
“I said the main thing that has to happen between teachers and our children was to form relationships, if that didn’t happen their job was going to be very difficult, and I think it was, um, quite a hard thing trying to establish those relationships. Teachers on the first intake of the Te Kotahitanga were a bit reluctant, perhaps they didn’t know what they were going into, but now what I’m hearing from the principals seven, eight years on it seems to be different from when it first started to what it is now. I see it as that they’re totally supporting the Te Kotahitanga project because the results have told them that it can be done and changes can take place.”
“There’s a commitment ah, to this ah, relationship and those are the two elements that you would say ko te taha wairua is the spiritual element and then the other one of course is looking after protocols wherein lies the values that have been handed down but we believe are still relevant to this day”
“First and foremost is for me is to open up the, the speech making for, for those who have come along, our Māori kaupapa and those things are very, very important and we abide by them strictly.”
“I see the Te Kotahitanga as a project where kaumatua play an important role and I think it’s good for our Māori students to know that there’s our kuia and koroua are there. We don’t want our Māori students to lose the taha Māori in spite of seeking higher academic attainment in that non-Māori world. And we’re hoping that our students and our mokopuna, our tamariki, can see the face of the kaumātua up as part of the Te Kotahitanga project. The last stats they put up showed that there are more of our students achieving and there’s more going onto tertiary education and that has to be a good sign for Te Kotahitanga and for me those are the real rewards for us as kaumātua. I did have a person come up and say to me, “How can you sit there all day and stay there, we’ve watched you just about every hui and you’ve been there from morning until the end of the day.” And I said, “Well for me I guess it’s we’re here to see that what the project is going to do for us and how are you going to do it? And what are the principals going to do about it to make it a success.”"
"We’re very, very passionate about the kaupapa and there are things that, ah, we, if we feel in our, in our thoughts in our minds in our hearts that things need to be said then we speak up.”
“When we decide to do things together we’re very good at it. And we’re really good, when we’re good to each other then we’re really good, I think that’s what happening here, there’s so much good will. These people they do care, they want it to make a difference. I believe that they can be very, very proud of themselves.”
“My dream is to see that our children achieve, so that’s my role here being like a caretaker perhaps. To see if it does happen, but I believe that it will happen.”