For the kaiako and whanau members of Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti, helping the next generation of young Natis to grow up confident and secure in their Ngati Porou identity and culture is their main kaupapa.
Established in 2009 by a group of Naati parents led by Natasha Koia, Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti is located on Cambridge Tce in Kaiti, Gisborne. Te Puna Reo o Puhi Kaiti provides quality Early Childhood Education immersed in Ngati Poroutanga. Te Puna Reo can take up to 30 tamariki, and although Ngati Porou reo and tikanga provide the main emphasis of the children’s learning, Te Puna Reo is not only exclusive to tamariki with Ngati Porou whakapapa.
Tarsh says she was brought up by her Nanny and Papa who instilled in her a love and passion for her Iwi identity, and wanted to share that same experience with the tamariki at the Puna.
Areta Hei (the peipi seen in the main photograph playing with her kaiako Te Aroha Coleman) is one of the tamariki at the Puna. Her mother (Josie McClutchie, the photographer of the image) enrolled Areta at the beginning of this year. Throughout the rest of her time at the Puna, Areta will learn to recite her own pepeha, sing waiata and moteatea, and converse with her friends in the playground using Te Reo Ake o Ngati Porou.
Tarsh says the children generally have 2 sessions on the mat a day, where they learn a Kaupapa Nui. Te Puna Reo was recently a finalist in the 2013 Maori Language Awards, and were nominated for their Ngati Poroutanga Kaupapa. “Last semester the main subject was about Ta Apirana Ngata, and the teaching was delivered at a level that the children would enjoy and understand. As part of this curriculum they learned waiata written by and about Ta Apirana, made drawings for a picture book about his life, and learned the words to E Tipu E Rea. Many of the children were able to transfer their knowledge of what they learned on to their whanau, and somewere even able to point out to their parents that Ta Apirana was on the fifty dollar note.”
Te Puna Reo have also recently come back from a noho where they stayed at Tarsh’s marae, Rongo i te Kai (Penu), near Ruatoria. “We try and take our babies up the Coast, to help strengthen their ties back home. We visited Papa Billy Hughes and his tamariki at the Paharakeke in Hiruharama. We have also visited Matua Choppy and his tamariki at the Puna Reo at Te Waiu.”
Tarsh says that they try to create a supportive environment at the Puna where everyone can learn. “Many of our parents have decided to follow their babies in learning te reo, and are attending part time classes at the Poly-tech or Wa. For those of our parents who don’t really have a strong connection to their Ngati Poroutanga or rarely go back to their marae, our Puna also provides a place for them to rekindle or create that sense of belonging or identity.”