Thursday, 21 June 2018

Te Pahu Graduate - Researchers

One of the key parts of becoming a Te Pahu Graduate is becoming a great researcher. We live in a world where we are fed information constantly and it is easy to believe inaccurate information. 'Chinese whispers' can really affect the quality of information we are given.

We had a fascinating visit to the Te Awamutu Museum today as research is a massive part of what they do. We were very privileged to talk to the staff who do research and who handle the Museum collections. The students got to go into the back rooms where all the collections are. They had a go at using research to identify some of the actual artifacts in the Museum. They also got to explore the stories behind some of the Museum display artifacts.

We learnt about primary and secondary sources. We learnt about the different sources to do research (e.g. specialists, books/documents, internet) and why some are better than others.

The students are about to head into speeches which will require quite a bit of research. As part of this learning we will use this learning and apply research principles to ensure we are getting accurate information.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Waipa land wars site tour

We had a fascinating tour of two of the sites of the NZ land wars - Rangiaowhia and Alexandra (Pirongia) redoubt.

We first went to St Pauls Church at Rangiaowhia. Rangiaowhia was a Maori village which was the 'breadbasket' of the Waikato for Maori. Lots of produce left the area going as far as Auckland. It was so good that the settlers wanted it and, after sneaking past the defences at Paterangi, made there way there. When they arrived it was just the women, children, and grandparents, as all the males were at Paterangi. There was confusion over who was male and female and so a number of people were killed. Many sheltered in a church that got burnt down. The settlers didn't have the skills of working the land in that area so the settlers didn't have a lot of success and the settlement died out.

We learnt about the building of the church which happened about 10 years before the war. A European helped the local Maori build it and they did it without any nails. The stain-glass window was carried through the bush from Tauranga without breaking. In the grave yard a number of students noticed how many young people people were buried there. This was a result of the poverty and related sicknesses due to the depression in NZ.

We then went to Alexandra redoubt. It is called that because Pirongia township used to be called Alexandra, before postal confusion with Alexandra in the South Island forced the change. There was never a war at the redoubt but it was created and used as a lookout for the potential of a war.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

New Zealand Land Wars

Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at an article on the NZ Land Wars. Today we visited the Te Awamutu Museum to learn some more about them. It is a terrible part of our national and local history but so important for us to learn about. It has affected our identity and history and has had a massive impact on the relationships between Maori and European.

It was shocking to learn about just how much land was lost by the Maori.

The advantage was heavily weighted towards the Europeans as they had a lot more experience, resources, and numbers of soldiers. The British army swelled to about 14 000 men. The Maori could only gather about 4000 men, and only some of the time, as they had to also provide for their families. 

We also learnt about kupapa who were Maori that supported the British and fought for them. It was fascinating to hear about how Duncan Cameron and his troops snuck, under the cover of darkness, past the well defended pa at Paterangi and onto land (Rangiaowhia) that kupapa had recommended. 

Approximately 2250 Maori died (250 kupapa) and 560 European.

The students got to handle some weapons used by the Maori - patu, taiaha, and muskets. The students also got to put on special gloves so they could handle 150 year old artifacts from the wars. A real privilege!

Next week the students get to visit two of the war sites - Rangiaowhia and Alexandra Redoubt.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Disguised day!

Well done to the student council for running the Westpac helicopter fundraiser. The whole school got in behind it and we raised over $150. Ka Pai!

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Treaty of Waitangi

Today we had a fascinating trip to the Te Awamutu Museum to learn about the Treaty of Waitangi.

We firstly looked at the situation before the treaty and the students got to dress up in costumes to represent the tangata whenua, sealers, whalers, traders, convicts, Busby, and Hobson. People were getting unruly and the Maori wanted change to the way their land and people were being treated. Busby and Hobson were expected to acquire land for immigrating British. The students then were shown the steps that led to the treaty.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Maori were shown the treaty and then given the choice to sign. Hone Heke was the first to sign and eventually over 500 Maori signed. The problem was that Maori were unfamiliar with the language of the treaty and signed without understanding exactly what their signing meant. They thought that by signing they would get greater protection and that decisions about land would be made in partnership with the British. However, the British saw the treaty as giving them the right to govern, buy, and administer the sale of land. This difference is what has led to all the struggles around land ownership in NZ.

The students looked at a massive version of the treaty. It was discussed that the overarching principles of the treaty were participation, partnership, and protection. The students then decided if they would sign to commit to these three things and then got to sign the treaty with a quill.

So much learning and it felt like we only scratched the surface.

Dialogue in writing

We have been looking at the value of dialogue (speech) in writing and strategies to use it effectively so it isn't confusing, boring, or irrelevant. We had a look at the below example of good dialogue and discussed the strategies the author used.

We discussed the importance of breaking up dialogue with detail, description, and action which tells us how the characters are acting and feeling during the dialogue. This is a good example of the power of extra information:
We discussed what it would be like if the only thing you used was dialogue (example below). It is important to not overuse it! We also discussed strategies to avoid confusion over who is speaking. One is indicating who is speaking and the other is when there is a change in speaker, give them a new paragraph.

 We will spend some time practicing these strategies as well as looking at how to correctly punctuate dialogue.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Sentence singing!

Today we looked at the power and effect of varied sentence lengths. Have a read of this:
The students took a piece of writing and counted the words in each of their sentences. They then tallied up the number of sentences under 5 words, the number between 5 and 15 words, and the number of sentences longer than 5 words. It was great for the students to discover what the variety is like in their sentence lengths. The students also worked out the average length of their sentences and what that said about their sentence lengths. Tomorrow we will do a piece of writing with a focus on varying sentence lengths.

Thursday, 17 May 2018


Identity is a rich word with many meanings and contexts it is used. It is a tricky word to understand so we spent some time today exploring it. The students analysed some different sentences that used it and then looked for common threads to come up with a definition. Here is an example of the analyzing.

Here are some of the students definitions:
  • Your identity is the way you or your group act. It describes your personality. Your identity is what makes you and your group who they are.
  • Identity is your personal information. It's something that divides you from everyone else.
  • Identity is who you are. What makes you, you. (your looks, personality, history, background, roots).
  • Identity is what you are recognised as. It is like your personality. It makes you yourself.
  • Identity means your personal details or your countries culture.
  • Identity is something that is part of you.
  • Identity is the reputation of a person, place, or thing.
  • A person or place can have an identity. An identity is what you are and what you do.
  • Identity is something you own which makes you who you are.
  • Identity can be a social, mental, physical, or emotional thing.
I am looking forward to more discussion around the above sentences and definitions. We will also look at our New Zealand identity. What makes us different from other cultures? What is our 'personality'?

Plastic pledge

One of our awesome Kokako parents sent me an email from National Geographic which gives the opportunity to make a pledge regarding our use of plastic. It could be a great thing to do as a family. Check it out here:

National Geographic - Planet or Plastic

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

St Johns First Aid

Today we had St Johns come and teach some first aid to the students. They learnt the basics of:

Send for help

The students learnt to put each other in the safe side position (traditionally called the recovery position), call for help, bandage each other, as well as do the compressions required for CPR.

Lots of great learning we hope they never have to use!

A Plastic Ocean

Over the last week we have watched and discussed a powerful documentary about the use of plastic by humanity. It powerfully showed us the impact plastic is having on our environment and us. Look out for the students blogs to discover some of the problems with plastic. Here are just a few things:
  • Plastic doesn't go away. We have the mistaken idea that when we throw plastic into the rubbish it just magically disappears. It doesn't. The plastic ends up in the ground or in the ocean. It breaks apart in the ocean into micro plastics (little pieces). Toxins from commercial waste attach themselves to the micro plastics. The micro plastics get eaten by fish and then we eat the fish.
  • Scientists who study the leeching of chemicals from plastic have discovered a number of chemicals that leech from plastic into foods. BPA is one of these chemicals, however, it is just one of many.
  • Plastic in the ocean dramatically affects wildlife. Many seabirds and other animals are dying from ingesting plastic (Photo example below).
The documentary also explored ways we can reduce the impact of plastic. Here are just a few things.
  • REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE - We discussed how the first one in the list REDUCE is the most important. Often we can avoid the use of single use plastic.
  • Germany has made plastic recycling the problem of the retailers. If you sell something plastic you are responsible for the recycling of it. People can recycle their plastic, get cash for it, and in the process who made the plastic is identified so that they pay for the recycling.
  • Rwanda is the first country to go plastic bag free. Paper bags are their go to storage bag.
  • Put pressure on our government and retailers to reduce plastic use.