The Forest Early Childhood Education
Te Awa Whānau, Te Awa Tamariki
An Early Childhood Centre Naming Journey, Jude Roberts nō Ngāti Maniapoto
The kaiako of The Forest would like to thank Jude from the bottom of our hearts for walking beside us as we chose a name for our special place – a name that reflected the beautiful Waitakaruru Stream as an important part of our identity. We spent time with Jude as she talked to us about the history of our rohe, our site, our stream, and the importance of this to the local Māori, and to us as kaitiaki (guardians) of this land.
Whakapapa (genealogical links) are held by all nationalities. They begin with a creative story that gives explanation to the formation of humanity and the environment it exists within. For Māori these lines connect to all living things – animate and inanimate. An eco-system whose whānau are derived through the creative energy of atua (gods/goddesses), each holding guardianship over their respective domains. The elder cousins in these genealogical lines are the forest, the waters, the sea, mountains, trees, birds and all manner of animal/insect life.
Humanity was the last born, formed from the precious earth space of Papā-tūa-nuku - ‘te kurawaka,’. From these feminine soils, woman was formed. With her first breath (a sneeze), Hine- ahu-one cleared her nostrils so that air might fill her lungs, and release the spirit of life, ‘Tihei Mauri ora! I breathe, therefore I am!’ Mauri is the life spark or essence inherent in all living things. It binds through motion therefore it affects or is affected by its surroundings. Without a ‘well’ lifeforce mana can not flow.
The mana of the forest is expressed through the abundance of its natural habitat. Mana has a ‘cousin (tapu)’, both work in conjunction with each other. Tapu (protection and respect) ensures care, healing and restoration is upheld. Humanity’s role in this balance is one of kia-tiaki. To be a protector tomtheir elders(to preserve, foster, shelter and safeguard). This responsibility ensures a world that thrives in harmony with each other.
The Waitakaruru Stream that flows through the centre of The Forest ECE site, was the traditional waters for baptisms in the Tauwhare area (Ngāti Haua tribe). Due to historical events, access decline and the degradation of the stream depth, this tradition could no longer be used in that area ¹ .
Pukemoremore the maunga (mountain) the Centre ‘resides upon’ was also known for having a lot of springs. These waters served both the every-day and spiritual needs of its residents ² .
The branding of The Forest ECE Te Awa Whānau, Te AwaTamariki, acknowledges the connections of the Waitakaruru waters to children, through its stories of birth and naming; and to the children of the forest, through their everyday needs and sustanance rights. The water way, the awa, brings life to all, a kinship that is based on relationships of unity, interconnections of environments and teachings of co-existence.
Toitu te marae o Tāne
Toitu te marae o Tangaroa
Toitu te whenua.
¹ Landcare Research, Sept 2019. Ngāti Haua Wetlands Mauri Framework
(Research for Ngāti Haua Trust, 2019).
² Information as above.
Care of the domains of Tāne (forest) and of Tangaroa (waters)
and the land will sustain you.