Heathy Families Rotorua systems innovators Mariana Vercoe and Teteira Ormsby visited Lynmore Primary School last week to provide a mātauranga Māori oversight on the school’s Waitawa Bush Project.
Year 3/4 deputy principal Lisa Hohepa and students took the pair on a trek through the forest-like environment within the school grounds. The bush is cared for and maintained by the students and teachers.
Mariana says it is wonderful to see the area not only used by tamariki for play during breaktimes, but also being utilised by classrooms as an outdoor learning space.
“The project includes elements of mātauranga Māori to increase learning opportunities for tamariki and staff in the natural environment,” says Mariana.
The plan is to have a waharoa (entranceway) telling the story of how Owhatiura was named, along with a storyboard about the whenua. Throughout the bush will be small pou or plaques with the names and descriptions of its various native trees and plants.
“The project’s primarily intended to increase mātauranga Māori within the kura by connecting tamariki to the whenua, pūrākau and the taiao, which I’m a huge advocate for with my mahi in the Play space,” she says.
Mariana and Teteira discussed with Lisa further Play and funding opportunities to help tamariki have better wellbeing outcomes through learning opportunities driven by mātauranga Māori.