Whatever do buzzy bees, Maori cosmology, the All Blacks, possums, stoats, kowhai and kapa haka have in common? These are just some of the topics touched on during the ‘Kiwiana’ holiday course taught by talented ELP Wellington teacher Kathy Ombler in October.
Ten intermediate-level learners responded positively to some quite complicated concepts about New Zealand and our history. These ranged across Maori stories of creation and the impacts of European settlement on both Maori tribal structures and our natural biodiversity. The Treaty of Waitangi and Waitangi Tribunal were discussed, along with conservation and predator pest control efforts towards restoring natural New Zealand. Some ‘real’ predators even visited – as in a taxidermied rat, possum, stoat and hedgehog on loan from Wellington City Council’s biodiversity staff!
English language of course, or in this case Kiwi speak – was explained, with Kiwi idioms and pronunciation causing some confusion and much humour! Te reo basics, including vowel pronunciation and commonly-used greetings and words were also introduced. All language topics were enhanced greatly thanks to the help of witty yet effective videos from the ‘How to Dad’ series.
New Zealand music and the culture and stories behind it ranged from several haka, to the famous Poi E, Blue Smoke and Whakaaria mai, while the class also practised some simple te reo pronunciation songs. Learners were surprised to learn there are many more haka than Ka Mate, and that the haka is not just an All Blacks thing. Poi E introduced the theme of Maori urbanisation, and Blue Smoke was an opportunity to discuss how thousands of Kiwi soldiers travelled to wars on the other side of the world. This generated discussion from learners about their own experiences of war.
Different native birds, flowers and plants (including their medicinal properties) were featured each day, and lots of those popular little ‘kiwiana’ things; gumboots, jandals, buzzy bee, peanut slab, for example, popped up throughout the four days.
‘Kiwiana’ style food was definitely popular, in particular the tastes of kawakawa tea and pavlova, and the hangi lunch on the final day – from Karaka Café at the city’s Wharewaka. We may be from many different countries, but the overarching theme coming through the history and culture discussed during this course was how we also have so many similarities.
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