He waka eke noa – The well-being of our kids. We are all in this together!

South Wairarapa and Carterton educators, learners, iwi, and community members came together on Thursday evening at a Hui held at Kuranui College to discuss how to ensure young people experience success.

The aim of the evening was to share the focus of the South Wairarapa Kāhui Ako for the coming year. Led by teachers and principals from South Wairarapa and Carterton schools, the group hosted a range of discussion groups and asked community members for their input into what they thought about some of the ideas behind the focus, how they see them developing in the future and how they might be part of it.

“Kāhui Ako is all about building a community of learning, with a focus on our learners. Whilst we’re based in schools, we’re looking to involve the wider community and looking at the community in the broader sense. Whānau, iwi, businesses, everybody around the whole of the South Wairarapa and Carterton, and even nationally and internationally,” explained Carterton and Kāhui Ako Lead Principal Alison Woollard.

“Although Kāhui Ako is student-led and student-focused, we’re bringing together as many different new ideas as we can within our community to make a difference to the young people in Wairarapa.

“Some of the outcomes from the evening include knowing the why, how and what within a ‘culturally responsive environment’, underpinned by he waka eke noa! We’re all in this together!”

Principal of Featherston School Gina Smith said “It’s about students directing us and not us telling them. At the heart is Hauora, the well-being of all within our community.”

Featherston Principal Gina Smith and colleague Jocelyn Kebbell lead the discussion around collaboration across the community.

Both Smith and her colleague Jocelyn Kebbell asked members of their discussion group what they thought collaboration across the community meant to them. “A good example of recent collaboration was when Featherston, South Featherston and St Teresa’s Primary Schools came together after the Wairarapa Kapa Haka Festival and put on a local performance for the students’ parents and whānau,” said Smith.

Alan Maxwell from Wairarapa Whānau Trust added to another discussion which was centred on making and grasping opportunities. “We should harness both technology and the energy of our youth to highlight our beautiful valley. We could use QR codes on po, along say a cycle trail, to tell the stories of Wairarapa – not just for our visitors but also for us. The kids could research and tell the stories that have real meaning for them.”

St Teresa’s Principal Jennifer Murth said the evening was a good way to gather information and hear other people’s views. “What does well-being mean to you in your own context, as it’s different to different people.”

“It’s great to have an opportunity to step out of your school bubble. We’ve already heard some excellent examples tonight of what’s going well in our community, like the Fab Feathy Fridays,” added teacher Alex Southall.

Greytown Primary School students Liam Gale and Claudia Hopkins took part in a student-led inquiry as part of the Kāhui Ako inquiry process. Their focus was on the school curriculum as they sent out a survey to students at other schools asking how they wanted to learn.

Greytown students Claudia Hopkins and Liam Gale took part in a student-inquiry on the school curriculum

“What we found was students find the school day very repetitive and they always have maths at 9 o’clock, reading at midday and writing at two in the afternoon and it’s the same old thing,” said Gale. “The biggest thing we found is they want a variety of subjects they can learn, science being the biggest alongside performing arts, and especially dance and drama.”

“I went to my principal, showed her the survey results and said this is what the students want to learn, and how they want to learn and they would like more dance, drama and science. She actually put drama into our school and so our teachers learnt how to teach improv and drama games and we did a lot of improv. It was really fun,” added Hopkins.

“Just looking at the conversations so far this evening, they are so rich and hold such great ideas. We’re looking forward to getting back in touch soon with all the feedback,” concluded Woollard.


Gladstone Principal Margaret Hyslop talks to members of the community about internal strengths

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