This story is about an only child, Iraia, who introduces his family members and then shares some exciting news.
It’s important to have a sense of belonging – knowing where we come from (our tūrangawaewae) and where we fit in the whānau (our whakapapa/genealogy).
The word whakapapa derives from the idea of ‘stacking one thing on top of another, in layers’. In this case, the layers are the generations.
Knowledge of whakapapa is extremely important to Māori. It has implications for leadership and mana, with its associated responsibilities. It also has implications for land/fishing privileges (rights), for example, when establishing title to land through the Māori Land Court.
Links within one’s iwi are important, as are links across iwi. The word iwi means ‘bones’ as well as ‘tribal people’, which is fitting when we consider the respect Māori show to the whenua (land), because their ancestors’ iwi are buried there. Hence the importance of the government’s repatriation (since 2003) of kōiwi and koimi tangata (Māori and Moriori skeletal remains) from overseas institutions. In the Māori world, the dead are important to the living.
Note the difference between the Māori notion of whakapapa and the European notion of genealogy as Māori make links not just to people but to other living beings, including the earth and sky, Papatūānuku and Ranginui and their offspring such as Tangaroa (god of the sea) and Tāne-mahuta (god of the forest). That is, whakapapa links all people back to the land, sea, and sky.
In reciting their whakapapa, some orators have a rākau whakapapa – a stick with indented notches representing their ancestors – as shown on pages 2–3 in the story.
The tuakana/teina relationship alluded to in the story is portrayed in a Māori proverb as a mutuallybeneficial relationship, where both parties gain something:
Mā te tuakana, ka tōtika te teina.
Mā te teina, ka tōtika te tuakana.
From the older sibling, the younger one learns the right way to do things. From the younger sibling, the older one learns to be tolerant.
Before reading the story, talk with students to discover:
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’.
Matching (listening or reading) – Students match selected pieces of oral or written text from the story to associated pictures that are randomly spread out.
Multi-choice (listening or reading) – Students decide which statement best applies to a picture from the text. For example, for the picture of Iraia’s paternal grandmother, Arahia, you might suggest four possibilities:
Ko Mandy taku kuia.
Ko Arahiataku kuia.
Ko Andrew taku kuia
Ko Terewa taku kuia
Cloze activity (with or without picture clues) – 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 cues.
Ko wai taku tuakana _____ taku teina?
Kare kau. He huatahi ______ .
Engari kei te _____ taku māmā.
The gaps can represent a consistent part of speech, such as nouns or pronouns. Alternatively, words can be deleted at random, for example, every third word.
Teachers can make a cloze exercise easier for students by:
This task can be extended to incorporate aural and oral modes, where you read a piece of text and stop at each missing word, so students can suggest an appropriate word to fill the gap.
Whakapapa chart – Once they are familiar with the conversations and layout of a famiy tree, as in Resource Sheet 1.4, students can depict (and verbalise) Iraia’s three-generation family tree. (This is shown on page 3 of these teachers' notes.)
Flashcards – Students learn the words for other whānau/family members, by using the flashcards from Resources sheet 1.1.
tuahine (sister of a male)
tungāne (brother of a female)
Bingo – Students consolidate names for additional whānau/family members by playing Bingo, using Resource sheet 1.2.
Animation – Students review the words for whānau/family members, in context, by watching the animation Taku whānau.
The animations from 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.
Arts and visual language – After reading Nanny’s Tokotoko (see Stories/Pakiwaitara on page 6), students could create their own rākau whakapapa, with markings to indicate who’s who in their whānau.
Video recording – Students recite their whakapapa on video taken on a cell phone or tablet. They could use their rākau whakapapa as a memory aid.
Information transfer – Each student draws an outline of their own whakapapa chart (two or three generations, minus family names except for their own) similar to that in Resource sheet 1.6.
They can give their outline to a partner and tell him or her who’s who in their family tree. Their partner writes the names in the correct places on the outline, according to the information they are given. For example:
Ko Ana taku whaea. Ana is my mum.
Ko Rawiri te mātāmua o te whānau. Rawiri is the firstborn of the family.
Ko Anaru te matua kēkē o Mikaere. Anaru is the uncle of Mikaere.
He huatahi a Arahia. Arahia is an only child.
I te taha o taku pāpā, ko Jack taku koro. On my dad’s side, Jack is my grandfather.
Students may like to use their rākau whakapapa to complement their oral delivery.
Playing cards – Students play Happy Families (using a commercial pack or cards they have made themselves), where they ask their fellow players for specific whānau members, for example:
Kei a koe te tamāhine o …? (Do you have the daughter of …?)
Homai koa. (Please give it to me.)
Text adaptation/reversioning – Using the language structures in this story as a framework, students compile photos or drawings to introduce family members. This could be in the form of individual cubes with a photo/picture on each surface, or in their own whānau book.
Same /Different (He rite/ He rerekē) – In pairs, students use Resource sheet 1.8 to discuss two family tree diagrams that contain similarities and differences such as iwi, gender, and age. This task is difficult but useful for extension.
Ko Hēmi te koroua: Hemi is the grandfather. (Same/He rite – across both students’ sheets)
Ko Ihapera te hoa-wahine o Tiaki: Ihapera is the wife of Tiaki. (Same/He rite – across both students’ sheets)
Ko Arahia te mātāmua o Ihapera: Arahia is the firstborn of Ihapera. (Different/He rerekē – across both students’ sheets)
Information gap/dycomm – In pairs or groups, students use Resource sheet 1.9, combing their respective pieces of information to complete a family tree. This task is difficult but useful for extension.
Ko Te Kepa rāua ko Hera ngā tamariki o Rāhera rāua ko Rewi. Te Kepa and Hera are the children of Rāhera and Rewi.
Ko Pateriki te tama o Tangiwai. Pateriki is the son of Tangiwai.
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.
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.
Ohlson, M. (2008). Nanny’s tokotoko, School Journal, Part 1, Number 2. (A story about a grandmother teaching her young mokopuna about her whakapapa and the significance of her walking/talking stick.) You can download