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Marae new experience for Brooklyn School kids, teachers, parents

Mar 30th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News

BROOKLYN School kids are “crying out” for Maori culture and this week they got it by staying on a marae and making their own hangi.

Only 5% of Brooklyn School children are Maori, says teacher Matthew Breach who led the marae experience.

“The community is crying out for it,” says Mr Breach (35), pictured on the right, who is head of Te Reo Maori at Brooklyn School and who is helping staff and student’s up-skill themselves.

Mr Breach teaches his year seven and eight classes about Maori culture, including the traditions of a New Zealand hangi.

On Tuesday this week they put their learning into practice, staying overnight at the Island Bay Marae, Tapu Te Ranga.

“For a lot of our kids, especially in the community, they have never been or stayed on a marae before so it’s probably exposing them all to that side of things.”

The kids spent the day preparing for the hangi – digging out the hole in the ground, moving wooden crates and peeling potatoes.

As leaders of Brooklyn School, the year sevens and eights welcomed the year fives and sixes with a hangi the next day.

Speaking on the first day, Peter Campbell (12), was sure the year fives and sixes would enjoy the hangi: “We’re amazing cooks.”

When asked about getting up at 5:30am, they were divided in opinion.

“It’s going to be a bit hard because we normally get up later, like two hours after,” Harry Jones (11) said.

GIRL TEAMWORK: From left, Tessa Lee (12), Sasha Brenton (12), Francesca Chemis (12), Rhema Neal (12) and Eva Albiston (12).

Rhema Neal (12), second in from the right, was a bit more accepting: “I’m alright about it but then I’m not because I like my sleep.”

The students were excited about sharing the experience with their friends and getting involved with Maori culture.

“I’m excited about doing everything together with the hangi and having a big sleepover with my friends,” Francesca Chemis (12), on the far right, said.

Zander Beard (11), pictured on the left in blue with friend, Josh Mainwaring, found the experience educational. “I learnt quite a bit about the marae and what’s happened to it, I learnt a few new words.”

Mr Breach in the past worked with Cobham Intermediate School in Christchurch to expose kids to Maori culture, which he says was a great success.

The barrier for Brooklyn School is the absence of field space to get the whole school involved.

He says he and the staff at Brooklyn wanted to have all students involved but this year was a test run.

“Other schools I’ve been at, it’s been possible to do because they’ve had fields and have been able to do it at the school, whereas we’ve only got 10m of grass so we’ve had to find another venue.”

This is the third year Mr Breach has been able to teach Brooklyn kids about the culture and language they haven’t been brought up with.

For Mr Breach, he too had to learn the language which he learned through teachers college.

“That led me on my own path of learning a bit more and taking on roles like this the school, learning through necessity really.”

The kids have been working independently to get donations for firewood, make phone calls and send emails to make the cultural experience happen.

“We put a lot on them and keep expectations really high and they like the challenge of being in charge of something. I put a lot of responsibility on them.”

The Island Bay Marae, Tapu Te Ranga was keen to come on board and support the school.



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is a student journalist studying at Whitireia in Welington. She is keen on keeping up with the news and writing stories that will have impact in the community. She is currently reporting stories within the Brooklyn area. She is interested in using multi-media in the news room.
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  1. Hi, I enjoyed reading about what Mr Breach was undertaking to develop for himself and for the benefit
    of the children at Brooklyn School.

    Bravo. I am pleased that these children have had such a unique experience. Thank-you to the school and the marae and to you Anneka.

    My child is in Year 4 and it is interesting to see what the older kids are up to.

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