SPARKLERS / Identity and culture

Tōku Pepeha

Celebrating our identity, whānau and where we come from.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki strengthen their own sense of identity and connection to whānau and community while developing visual communication skills and understanding of tikanga.

Tāngia ēnei tohutohu – Print me

Tamariki will need a copy of the Tōku Pepeha worksheet (A3 recommended), or the Tōku Waka worksheet for ECE (A4 recommended).

If tamariki are completing the worksheet at home and have misplaced the print-out or don't have a printer, they could answer the questions in an exercise book.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Knowing about your whānau, history, and culture is validating, and can deepen your sense of belonging, confidence, and connectedness.

Learning pepeha is one way to begin talking about yourself, your whānau, and how you are connected with the world around you.

Hei maumahara - Things to remember

The word pepeha is closely linked to whakapapa (genealogy) in te ao Māori.

Knowing that some tamariki don’t have access to their family history, this activity also makes room for more general self-introduction, or kōrero tuakiri (talking about identity).

Inspired by pepeha, this activity supports diverse tamariki by providing an alternative way for tamariki, both Māori and non Māori, to share their story, express their identity and build whanaungatanga with others.

Whakamārama - Background

Introduce this activity with a kōrero about identity. You could get straight into Tōku Pepeha, or start off with some other Sparklers activities to develop understanding of identity:

What’s In a Name? – The origin and meaning of names can give us great insight into a person’s identity, family and culture.

Stories to Remember - Tamariki connect with someone in the whānau and learn more about them.

My Guardians and Draw Your Own! – Print out and glue onto the pepeha sheet, tamariki choose or draw their own creature, that that they feel most connected to.

Kimihia Te Mātauranga O Neherā - Seek out stories from their elders, or people of great influence in their whānau, about the areas their whānau are from in Aotearoa.

Fill My Whare Tapa Wha - Fostering tūrangawaewae within tamariki by connection with our surroundings and supporting tamariki to connect with their hauora

Hei mahi - What to do

Step 1:

Print and give each student a copy of our Tōku Pepeha worksheet.

You can either give tamariki the instructions to work at a self-directed pace, follow our in-depth guide for teaching this across a few lessons, or have tamariki complete as much as they can in class and the rest at home.

Step 2:

Explain to tamariki the elements they may explore through Tōku Pepeha, and ask them to write their own story under the title, Tōku Pepeha.

Tamariki might like to draw their whānau or friends on the waka, and draw important places or events from their whānau story in the three circles.

Here’s a guide through some of the te reo Māori terms we hear a lot in pepeha:

  • Waka means a boat, vessel or vehicle. Most people in Aotearoa have tīpuna (ancestors) that got here on some type of waka. Do you know how your tīpuna got here? Do you know where they arrived?

  • Maunga means mountain and awa means river. We rely on the land so much, it even shapes our identity! Do you know of any important maunga or awa where your tīpuna lived? Who else lived there?

  • Whānau means family, and hapū means a group of related families. Iwi means a large group of people who are all related! Do you know the name of your whānau? Is it a small whānau, or a big whānau? Do you have a hapū, or an iwi?

  • Ahau means me, myself and I! Where are the important places in your life? Who are the people on your ‘waka’, wherever you go?

Step 3:

Next, it’s colouring in time! Encourage tamariki to add patterns, family crests, important landmarks in the background, or symbols that represent your culture, family, or what you grew up with/around.

  • Where has your waka travelled from, based on family names and stories?
  • The place(s) your whānau settled in Aotearoa such as where your family names are known.
  • Connecting to the place where you now feel most at home (you could talk to tūrangawaewae here if familiar) that's part of who you are.
  • The name of their waka.
  • Who's on the waka with you?

My Waka

Tōku Waka is a simplified version of Tōku Pepeha that has been created for ECE teachers, with younger tamariki in mind.

You may want to introduce the same kupu Māori (Māori words) as in the Tōku Pepeha activity above.

Invite tamariki to draw their loved ones aboard their waka, as well as some things that represent their whānau.

Tamariki can share in any language and decide the depth and length of what they share. It may be as simple as introducing place names, family names, and their name!

Whakarongo mai - Listen

University of Canterbury lecturer Aaron Hāpuku shares kōrero on learning more about pepeha as a connection to others and self. You may like to use Pepeha to translate your story into te reo Māori.

What next?

Our new Matariki Showcase Classroom Banner printout is a way for you to display all of the amazing pepeha posters created by your ākonga or any other activity for that matter, while connecting with Matariki celebrations.

Sparklers at Home

It is great to include whānau and guardians for tamariki to be supported with their exploration. Your involvement can tautoko a sense of curiosity in your child to discover more about who they are and who their whānau is. Check out Sparklers at Home, which has the same activity Tōku Pepeha. Talking about your family history and places of significance will be so valuable for your child(ren).

Ngā mihi

We send our appreciation to our Māori advisory rōpū who guided the tikanga and creation of this revitalized activity.

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

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