From predator pests to pīngao to Parliament

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All the ‘Ps’ and more on a Kiwiana course studying Aotearoa’s unique culture.

A treasure hunt introduced the usual Kiwiana icons – Buzzy Bees, marmite, kiwifruit and L&P – with learners searching all corners of the classroom to find them.

“It was a great warmup activity,” says Kathy Ombler, English Language Partners Wellington teacher.

Course topics in the English-language course included a focus on New Zealand’s natural landscapes and how they changed after humans developed farms and introduced animals, including predator pests.

“Some classmates reacted with shrieks and gasps to a demonstration of trapping stoats, rats and hedgehogs,” says Kathy. “Others asked how they could get their own traps to help control pests.”

Heritage and government were key topics on the two-week course.

Kiwiana English course
Kiwiana English courseKiwiana English course

Kathy says that after teaching how our government system works, plus introducing the Treaty of Waitangi and Women’s Suffrage, the class spent a day exploring Wellington’s government precinct.

“We took a guided tour of Parliament, saw the Treaty of Waitangi and Women’s Suffrage Petition at the National Library, and played at being Cabinet Ministers around the old cabinet table in Old Government Buildings,” says Kathy. “We also enjoyed a visit to beautiful Old St Paul’s Cathedral.”

On another outing, classmates helped Conservation Volunteers NZ with a local dune restoration project. “We weeded native pīngao plants on Worser Bay’s sand dunes, at least until the arrival of fish and chips for lunch brought a sudden halt to all work!” says Kathy.

Back in the classroom, learners explored Te Ao Māori (the Māori world view).

Special guest Jason Rihari took the class through a traditional mihi, and explained how the moko on his arm represented his whakapapa (family descent).

“Jason also taught how to ask and answer, ‘who are you?’, showed the colourful korowai woven by his sister and taught some waiata,” says Kathy.

Pania Houkamau-Ngaheu and Clara Richards visited later. They explained the stories behind their moko kauae, and described their lives growing up in remote rural communities.

Kathy notes that the class were keen learners of waiata. “Our guests were thanked for sharing their time and stories with impressive renditions of Tūtira mai, E Toro Ngā Mea and the lullaby, Hine E.”

She says the course offers a wonderful opportunity for language learning and for understanding New Zealand’s culture and history.

“The course lends itself to interesting topics and helps our newer New Zealanders settle and feel part of Kiwi life.”

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English Language Groups

  • 2-4 hours per week
  • Learn Kiwi English in a class
  • Learn about New Zealand culture
  • Go on day trips
  • Meet other people in your community
  • Qualified teachers
  • Fees may apply. Ask at your centre.
  • In all centres

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