For Merivale School in Tauranga, the individual needs of their tamariki require them to be agile in a whole school approach that focuses on culture, building life skills and keeping tamariki excited for their school life.
We spoke to Eva, a year four and five teacher at Merivale School to learn about their whole school approach to hauora.
“For us as a kura, it’s not a one size fits all approach. It is really important to look at the needs of each individual tamariki and place them at the centre of everything we do. We do this at a whole kura level and at a class level.”
Exploring passions and having fun
“The needs of our tamariki can be quite different to other kura. For instance, we really want to focus on attendance with our tamariki, so we work hard to fill out the week with exciting activities like passion hour on a Monday afternoon.”
Passion hour is dedicated to Kaiako teaching tamariki a life skill they are passionate about. Tamariki can decide which passions they want to pursue and join that passion hour.
“We have a whole range of activities – cooking, gardening and even surfing! One of our Kaiako used to be a professional surfer so he can take the tamariki out for a surf.”
“The tamariki love it. They are getting exposed to skills and hobbies they may not have the opportunity to engage with otherwise. It provides an awesome connection between passionate Kaiako and passionate tamariki!”
Merivale School also finishes out the week with a house competition, gathering the tamariki to compete in different games against each other.
“When we do activities like this, we are offering tamariki things to look forward to. We are building fun into their routine and giving them opportunities to feel excited about what lies ahead for their week.”
“This is especially important for tamariki who don’t thrive in a typical learning environment.”
Embracing mātauranga Māori
At Merivale School, celebrating culture is a huge focus, with 89% of their school population being Māori.
“Hauora plays a huge part in Māori culture, so it’s already weaved into a lot of what we do and teach.”
“Outside of that, we focus on helping the tamariki build their cultural identity. We want to make sure that tamariki know where they are from, where they belong and who they are.”
“We have a Rumaki unit and offer cultural groups like Kapa Haka, Pasifika and most recently, Mau Rākau for our year five and six tamariki which has been a hit.”
Mau Rākau is traditional Māori martial arts, which seeks to teach the ancestral practices, values and protocols of the warrior.
Eva says the programme has been fantastic and the tamariki have responded well.
“It’s been awesome in teaching about discipline and providing our tamariki with the history of their indigenous culture.”
“We even noticed that our neuro-diverse learners who can struggle to participate have really been getting involved.”
A little bit of everything
For Merivale School, it’s not just one of these initiatives that make the tamariki wellbeing strong, it’s a little bit of everything.
“Each of these activities teaches our tamariki something different, whether it’s passion, discipline, excitement, or cultural identity - they all work together really well to build hauora in our tamariki.”
“We know from our statistics that these initiatives are working but we also know from the way our tamariki respond and how happy they are.”