Our Story


Poutokomanawa has grown out of rich collaboration at the grass-roots level between three passionate music and movement educators working with primary aged children: Makaira Waugh (Te Ātiawa), Priya Gain and Rawiri Hindle (Ngati Kurī, Pohotiare).  


Collectively we have experience as specialist arts educators working with children aged 5 - 12 years in Māori and English medium contexts. Additionally we all have experience facilitating and leading professional development workshops for teachers.


Priya and Makaira's initial collaboration was in working with the Orff approach, an approach to music education that integrates language, music and movement (see Kete Aronui Orff). Their work is focused on creative learning processes that give children plenty of opportunities for musical play and improvisation within collective ensembles. Through collaboratively running Orff workshops and courses for teachers, and more recently a Networks of Expertise project at Otari School, they have developed an interest in local bicultural curriculum design that aims to provide rich and authentic learning processes that enable children to learn through singing, creating, playing, exploring, imagining, enjoying, dancing and moving.


Rawiri and Makaira have worked alongside each other in arts education in a Kura Kaupapa Māori context, Makaira in music and Rawiri in performing arts. Both educators work to create a safe and stimulating space for tamariki to come alive in through the arts, empowering their own expression and growth. They have a strong focus on hauora (holistic wellbeing), especially te taha wairua, and embodying the gifts of our tūpuna. 

This site is the result of a growing awareness of the need for a platform that shines a light on some of the rich arts work happening, both in kura kaupapa and mainstream contexts, through authentic collaboration.  Through ongoing collaboration and partnerships we hope to design more ngā toi based experiences for tamariki, in both Māori and English medium primary schools, to engage with indigenous understandings and frameworks that offer a different way of looking and engaging with the place we all call home here in Aotearoa, in Te Moananui a Kiwa the Pacific.   We hope our work can support the following goals:

  •  Developing better processes and spaces in education that support and enable Māori leadership in arts based learning

  • Creating genuine spaces in bicultural arts education projects that give time and opportunities for rich thoughtful, critically reflective collaboration.  

  • Advocating for effective strategy development that prioritises leadership within Māori immersion contexts as an essential first step before we can achieve deeper authenticity when teaching with Māori material in mainstream contexts. 

  • Centralising indigenous knowledge and understandings in our education system

  • Decentralising the Eurocentricity of the stories and knowledge of our place here in the Pacific and seeing a priority placed on indigenous stories of this place – because they are part of the bigger story of the place where we now live and belong.

  • Finding effective processes and structures, through our collaboration, that better enable Māori leadership in making material available in mainstream contexts, for non-Māori to access and learn from as they engage with new material/knowledge/concepts. 

Bert van Dijk joined our collaboration in the production of Hā Ora, our first collective resource, which was an offering to Te Rito Toi to support primary children as they returned to school post lockdown due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. We felt this work also needed to sit nestled and supported within its own kaupapa and te ao Māori framework. This is what Poutokomanawa offers. We hope it supports discussions and collaborations within arts education more broadly and is able to contribute to enabling more Maori leadership in arts education in Aotearoa in the future.  Since our first resource collaboration we have worked with a number of other artists, pedagogues and designers including Emily Cater, Liz Melchior, Maree Wilson and Radha Sahar, who have all been incredible collaborators and supporters of Poutokomanawa's kaupapa (see 'Projects').  We look forward to sharing more rich bicultural mahi with you soon.