In 2016 I got my dream job as Kaiako Toi (Arts Specialist teacher) at a Kura Kaupapa Māori in the Wellington area, and threw myself into developing and teaching an Orff music & movement programme for the Y1-8 students there. I loved my mahi and wanted to share the benefits of the Orff approach and the teaching I was developing with other kaiako and kura, so began running free workshops for local kaiako, eventually reaching out as far as Ōtaki and Heretaunga (Hastings), and facilitating networking hui for local music teachers to support kaiako during this time.
When staff from Otari School were motivated by their experience of the workshops to do more, Priya followed up and organised funding through the Networks of Expertise programme to help them attend the 2018 Orff Level 1 qualification course in Wellington, and to receive some further in-school mentoring after the course finished. I came on board as a tutor for the language component of the course, so the two kaiako from Otari School could access this learning in te reo Māori. I then became a mentor, alongside Priya, in the in-school mentoring project to further support all 4 staff from Otari school who attended the course.
It was exciting to help train kaiako who were new to Orff, and I enjoyed our sessions during the course. Priya supported me by sharing her own notes for the language sessions, and I used these to create new programmes in te reo that fitted the Otari and kaupapa Māori context. In this way I was able to further grow my own teaching by developing new material with a strong Orff pedagogical base, at the same time as supporting the lovely kaiako in the course. The poem with two voices that follows is an example of this:
Otari Kūkū, Otari Kākā
Nā Makaira Waugh
Tuna, kōrua, tino rata
Tō hope pukunati
Mahia ngā mahi pai
Kohia i uta, haria ki tai
E kani tō kani e
Hauhā ki roto
Hāora ki waho
Whatoro ki runga
Whārōrō ki raro
Mahia ngā mahi pai
Kia tokorangi ai
E kani tō kani e
He panga: E rua ngā reo kei roto i tēnei rotarota, nō wai ēnei reo? He mea whakahī mō te kura o Otari i Te Whanganui a Tara, otirā me mōhiotia kei tōna taha ko te ngahere rāhui o Otari (Wilton's Bush), engari, ehara mō ngā manu!
He whakaari: Whakaarihia te rotarota nei kia tino rerekē ai ngā ā ringa mā ia reo. Kia mōhio mai ai, he rākau tētahi he manga tētahi. Otirā ko te tauarotanga, te rerenga kētanga te ngako o te rotarota, e whakarite ana i te nekeneke me he kanikani.
I composed a number of poems for the language unit, based on whakataukī. It was great to work with the Otari kaiako in this context and explore the musical possibilities of poetry, but it also showed me ways I could use this in my own teaching, and prompted me to put thought and effort into composing my own poetry. I had written many poems previously in the form of waiata, but have since developed a number of stand alone poems, and even performed a couple at a poetry slam for the first time, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes you just need the impetus and provocation to kickstart a new artistic hobby. Of course, my students also benefited from the programme, and I have also used it in my own professional development workshops that I run for kaiako around the country.
A bicultural professional learning model
It was great for me as a kaiako Māori to work with other kaiako Māori in the level 1 course and show them ways of incorporating te reo and tikanga into the Orff approach. When I started learning the approach there wasn’t this kind of support, and I have had to develop everything I teach from scratch, or by taking some material and translating it into te reo - quite a laborious, time-consuming task. It was very important to me to support our kaiako within the framework of our own language and culture, to inspire them and help them to use their own funds of knowledge and skills to develop their own ideas and kaupapa. So for me it was very much about empowerment.
When we followed up the levels course with the mentoring programme, rather than me working separately with our two kaiako Māori from the bilingual unit at Otari, as I had in the course, Priya and I both worked together in English with all 4 kaiako - one from the Montessori unit and one from the mainstream unit within the school. Working together as a group was good as it strengthened cohesivity within the Otari kaiako as a whole, and I also got the impression that our two Pākehā teachers may have enjoyed gaining an insight into te ao Māori from our sharing of material and ideas, including the different approaches we took to develop and teach music.
The opportunity to deliver teaching and facilitate learning in te reo and tikanga Māori is definitely something I would like to see a lot more of within arts education in Aotearoa, and I feel that the model we applied to this project was a very positive and valuable one that I would like to see replicated. Nāku te rourou, nāu te rourou ka ora ai te iwi: by working together in collaboration like this, we can achieve so much.
It was fantastic watching our mentee kaiako grow and develop over the course of the mentoring project, not just in their skills and practice, but their personas as music teachers. This is something you don’t get to be a part of, or even necessarily facilitate, as a one-off workshop presenter - you never know whether kaiako will uplift your offerings and take it into their own classrooms, or walk away and leave it behind, let alone develop their own practice.
During the course of the mentoring project, I got to see all our kaiako at Otari School take up the mantle of music teaching in their own unique ways. My expectations were exceeded when I saw kaiako, who seemed initially unconfident about their ability to teach music, really take on the role and not only utilise some of the material from the course but have the confidence to try out their own ideas with their class - ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with, but fitted their context.
It was wonderful to see this development each week and hear the different ways the kaiako incorporated music into their teaching. The long term nature of the project meant we met regularly and got to hear each other's progress, sharing stories of things that we’d tried, how they had gone and ideas of next steps. As well as contributing support for our mentees, I myself got some support from my involvement just by having other peers to connect with on a regular basis, as my own role as a specialist is very isolated. The group culture we developed was very positive, and everyone was inspired and buoyed by participation. I feel this had a significant effect on our mentee kaiako in particular as they grew in confidence at trying new ideas, and especially at creating their own material. Shani’s wonderful wētā poem was an example of this.
Wildly Wandering Wētā
By Shani Leda
Wildly, wandering wētā,
Scuttling through the leaves,
Finds a fleeing centipede,
Brings it to its knees.
What a yummy tea
Movement: Low rhythmic swaying for 'wildly wandering', then scuttling on hands and knees, scratching the floor. Then return to rhythmic swaying on the last line.
Rhythm: Using sticks and stones bang rhythmically and quickly, but not at the same time to give the impression of the many knees/legs of the centipede (Shani's young 5 year olds in her class wanted to do 100 leg taps!)
Body Percussion: Clap on 'snap!' and 'crunch!' and then tap tummy lightly for 'yummy tea'.
Thank you very much to Priya for her leadership and vision in organising, creating and implementing this project. Priya was wonderful to work besides, generous in sharing her material for me to work with and a role model as a highly skilled, dedicated educator and a passionate but humble leader within the music education community.
Thanks also to our kaiako from Otari who put such a lot of themselves into the project, pushing out beyond their doubts and previous perceptions to discover the wonderful abilities within themselves, and share these with us and their learners. It’s been a neat trip, and the highlight has been seeing you all grow. Thank you to our supporters for your tautoko - the Networks of Expertise team, ONZA, and Otari school.