With this in mind, the ESOL Literacy class joined an education programme run by Te Manawa, the Manawatu region’s museum, called Our People, Our Place.
The carpet at Te Manawa is a map of the Manawatu, and learners could see the city and countryside under their feet – some learners even found their houses on the carpet map!
The class learnt how the Manawatu Gorge was formed and that millions of years ago, Palmerston North was under the ocean.
One Maori legend they enjoyed was of how the gorge was formed by Okatia, a Maori spirit who lived in a Totara tree in the Puketoi Ranges. He wanted to visit the ocean, so he pulled up the Totara tree and then pushed a path through the mountains to get to the coast on the other side of the ranges. The river backed up behind him and started flowing through the plains until it met the sea at Foxton Beach.
The learners also looked at old photos of familiar city buildings and places around the city. Then they split into groups and looked at different areas in Te Manawa.
At the rugby museum, people learnt about famous Manawatu sportspeople, and some students tried out their rugby skills!
In the museum galleries, they had a scavenger hunt to find items brought to New Zealand by early settlers and at the art gallery, people looked at paintings of Palmerston North by local artists. Then learners created their own artworks.
The class gained a valuable understanding of their city, its culture, how it has changed and continues to change, and their place within it.
Writer: Helen Van Den Ende