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He Kanikani i te Ao / Dances from Around the World Pukapuka

He Kanikani i te Ao / Dances from Around the World

Storyline / Kiko

This story introduces children from different countries. They perform dances representing their different cultures.


Achievement Objectives / Whāinga Paetae

Children should be able to:

  • 2.5 communicate about physical characteristics and personality
  • 3.1 communicate about customs.

Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori - Kura Auraki

Learning Context / Kaupapa

This story relates to the topic of Ngā hākari/Celebrations (Unit 7) in He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora.


He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora

Assessment / Aromatawai

Learning intentions and success criteria have been included in these teachers’ notes (see rubrics below) to help determine student progress. The format of the rubrics is similar to He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora, allowing for student self-assessment, as well as assessment by:

  • other students (tuākana and tēina)
  • teachers
  • whānau (as a way of engaging families and promoting a partnership between home and school).

The three tohu/ symbols in the rubrics indicate different steps of learning, as depicted in this poutama pattern.

Proverb / Whakataukī

Me te paihau turuki.

Like the wings of a young duck.


This simile describes the wiriwiri – the shaking hand movement in a kanikani or haka. This movement is said to represent different aspects of the environment, such as shimmering heat and rustling leaves. The wiriwiri derives from Tāne-rore, who is believed to be the originator of dance.

Cultural Knowledge / Tikanga 

Different countries showcase their culture through performance. In New Zealand, Māori performing arts (kapa haka) are a vehicle for the retention and revitalisation of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Māori language and culture). This includes waiata, poi, and haka, with many cultural groups also incorporating mau rākau (traditional weaponry) and taonga puoro (traditional Māori music). Kapa haka participants also benefit from the values of being a part of a group, including whakawhanaungatanga (building relationships), manaakitanga (looking after each other), and aroha (love). In explaining the art of haka, haka master Henare Teowai said, “Kia kōrero te katoa o te tinana” – every part of the body should ‘speak’.


When missionaries came to Aotearoa New Zealand they reportedly encouraged Māori to stop performing haka, karakia, and waiata because of perceived conflict with Christian beliefs. Instead, they promoted hymns and European songs. Because of this, many Māori waiata have European melodies. You can read more about this here. Despite the missionaries’ pleas, kapa haka groups continued to perform, and Māori continued to include kapa haka at their hui.


In the 1900s, actions were added to waiata to complement the words, and this innovation of waiata-ā-ringa (action songs) stimulated the composition of many melodic waiata. Kapa haka provided Maori who felt dislocated from their iwi during the urban drift in the 1930s with a way to stay connected to their culture and language. Many kapa haka groups that formed at this time were pan-iwi. Today, the national Māori performing arts festival Te Matatini provides a platform for performers to present original contemporary compositions. These compositions often comment on political topics or social issues. Through their compositions, especially the haka, Māori composers can air their concerns. Kapa haka thrives in many New Zealand schools and is popular with children from diverse cultures. In addition to promoting an appreciation of Māori language and culture, participants learn life skills and gain cognitive and physical benefits.




Note: The literal translation of kapa is to stand in a row. Most dictionaries define haka as a posture dance.

Pre-Reading / I Mua Atu

Before reading the story, talk with students to discover:

  • their previous experiences in relation to the picture on the front cover
  • their prior knowledge of relevant vocabulary, language structures, and Māori concepts.

Flashcards / Whakaahua

You could create flashcards to show images of the following content words:

hura – hula
kamupūtu – gumboot
raiona – lion
amarama– umbrella
haka – haka
hoari – sword
Āwherika – Africa
Pāniora – Spain
Kōtirana – Scotland
Haina – China
Tiapana - Japan
Aotearoa – New Zealand

Other Words / Ētahi Atu Kupu

Other words in the text include:

kanikani – dance
peke – jump
mau – wear
takahi waewae – stamp feet
tino – very, best
kakama – agile
pūmanawa – talented
kaha – strong
tere – quick
māia – confident
ātaahua – beautiful
mōhio – skilful

Grammar / Wetereo

This reader includes the following language structures:

  • dual pronoun rāua, meaning ‘they’ (two people) (Kei te haka rāua. They (two people) do a haka.)
  • conjunction rāua ko for joining two people’s names (Himi rāua ko Pateriki. Himi and Pateriki.)
  • present-tense marker Kei te … (Kei te kanikani hura rāua. They dance the hula.)
  • adjectival phrase using the intensifier tino (Tino tere rāua. They are very quick.)
  • interrogative he aha, meaning ‘what’
  • sentence starter nō, meaning ‘belonging to/from’, in the sense of tūrangawaewae (Nō Pāniora a Maria. Maria is from Spain.)

Follow-Up / I Muri Mai

Second language tasks / activities


Once students are familiar with the text, you can facilitate some of the second language tasks/ activities below, working to your students’ strengths and interests. The aim is to extend their proficiency and use of te reo in meaningful contexts.

While facilitating these tasks/activities, remember that you don’t have to be the expert. As conveyed in the Māori concept of ako, you may be in the position of being a learner alongside your students. In fact, some students may want to take the lead.


Ka pai tēnā. Nō reira, kia kaha.


For general information on common task types, see He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora. Choose ‘Using tasks and activities’.


He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora


Matching (listening or reading) – Students match selected pieces of oral or written text from the story to associated pictures showing, for example, characters, dances, or maps that are randomly sorted.


True/False (kei te tika/kei te hē) (listening or reading) – Students make a judgement on whether a spoken or written statement about a picture in the book is true or false (kei te tika/kei te hē).


For example, for the picture of the hula, you could make the following false statement:

Kei te peke hoari rāua.

If false, the students must ‘make it right’ by providing the correct text that corresponds with that picture:

Kei te kanikani hura rāua.


Multi-choice (listening or reading) – Provide descriptions of a picture from the text, and students decide which description best applies. For example, for the picture of the Chinese lion dance, you might suggest:

Kei te hurihuri amarara rāua.

Kei te kori raiona rāua.

Kei te kanikani hura rāua.

Kei te haka rāua.


Cloze activity – Create gaps in the written text for students to complete. A cloze is a good way to help students notice the grammar of te reo Māori, as well as improve their prediction skills and encourage them to make intelligent guesses from context and picture cues. For example:

Nō a Himi rāua ko Pateriki. Kei te haka .


The gaps in a cloze can represent a consistent part of speech such as nouns or pronouns. Alternatively, words can be deleted at random, for example, every third word.

You can make a cloze exercise easier for students by:

  • telling them how many letters are in the missing word
  • providing the first letter
  • giving them a list of words to choose from.

A cloze task can be extended to incorporate listening and speaking, where you read a piece of text and stop at each missing word, so students can suggest an appropriate word to fill the gap.


Story dramatisation – Students read the story Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street by Patricia Grace, then act it out doing some of the dances. You can embed Māori words into the English text, as in this YouTube clip.


Vocabulary extension – To learn the Māori names for other countries, students can:

  • read the story Nō Hea Ēnei Kararehe? (Where Are These Animals From?) about creatures in other countries, including three taniwha
  • watch the animation Nō hea ia? about animals in different countries of the world. Note that the animations in He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora are supported with useful information, including storyline, grammar, Māori transcript, and English translation. Before showing the animations, make sure you are familiar with this information.

Text adaptation/reversioning – Students create their own text to celebrate the cultural diversity of the children in their class or school, using the language structures in this story as a framework.


Mini book – Print the mini-book template (with instructions), so every child in your class can take home a mini version of this story to read with whānau.

Song / Waiata

This waiata will support the kaupapa of the reader:

  • Kanikani kanikani tamariki mā – available in the Te Reo Kori kit from Kohia Resources.

Pakipaki pakipaki tamariki mā (x2)

Peke peke peke peke tamariki mā (x2)

Hīkoi hīkoi hīkoi hīkoi tamariki mā (x2)

Oma oma oma oma tamariki mā (x2)

Kanikani kanikani tamariki mā (x2)

Huri huri huri huri tamariki mā (x2)

Whakarongo whakarongo tamariki mā (x2)


Clap clap children

Jump jump children

Walk children

Run children

Dance children

Turn children

Listen children

Using The Big Books In Early Childhood

In English-medium ECE settings, where Māori language is a natural part of the programme (as recommended in the Mana reo strand of Te Whāriki), the big books for Reo Tupu stories can be used for shared reading with tamariki.


These stories will allow teachers to weave Māori language and culture into their everyday activities, demonstrating the value they place on te reo and tikanga Māori. This is especially important for enhancing identity, sense of belonging, and well-being. The audio component of the e-books will support teachers and tamariki to pronounce te reo Māori correctly.

Stories / Pakiwaitara

The following stories are relevant to the kaupapa of this reader:


Grace, P. (1984). Watercress tuna and the children of Champion Street. Auckland: Puffin. (An eel with a magic throat travels through Champion Street in Porirua, presenting cultural gifts to children of different ethnicities.)

Mahuika, K., & Pewhairangi, K. (2004). Ko au tēnei e haka ana! Wellington: Learning Media. (This story introduces the concept of rua.)

Patrick, A. (2017). Nō hea ēnei kararehe?/Where are these animals from? Arahia Books. (Bilingual story about creatures in other countries, including three taniwha.)

Acknowledgements / He Mihi

The author would like to acknowledge the teachers she has worked with over the years, inspiring her to create these books. Ināianei kua mātātupu. Ka tuku mihi hoki ki te whānau Laison nō Taranaki me te whānau Takotohiwi nō Ngāti Awa, who nurtured her in te ao Māori; ko te tino koha tēnā.

She also acknowledges with fondness her Māori tutors during decades of learning, particularly Hirini Mead, Tamati Kruger, Wiremu Parker, Keri Kaa, and Ruka Broughton, and her two non-Māori mentors and role models, Mary Boyce and Fran Hunia.

All these people have added to her kete.

Kua whetūrangitia ētahi engari kāore e warewaretia ō rātou mahi maha ki te akiaki i a ia. Hei whakamutunga, ka tuku mihi ki āna mokopuna me āna tama – te pū o ēnei pukapuka.


He Kanikani i te Ao / Dances from Around the World PDF

  • Dances-from-Around-the-World_Teacher-resource.pdf
  • 2.2 MB