Published: Thursday, 09 August 2018 10:03
Auckland Girls’ Grammar School’s Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi is going from strength to strength.
The Kaupapa Maori Unit, which was established at AGGS in 1986, has undergone a review in 2018 with an overwhelming verdict coming through: The unit’s doing great work, offering invaluable cultural learning and opportunity - and is a huge success.
Ravin Te Wano, Prefect and also leader of the 2018 AGGS Kahurangi Ki Maungawhau Kapahaka Group, sums it up:
“Kahurangi to me? I would define us as, honestly, a sisterhood within a sisterhood. But as tangata whenua – as people of this land – I think it’s important that we hold and maintain the treasures that still exist. So for us that would be our language, te reo Maori, kapa haka, and performing arts.”
“It’s awesome because Maoritanga is – well, being a whanau and being a sister – is honestly a foundation to our culture and for us to be able to hold onto that is very important to me, being a Maori female growing up in this day and age and in this type of society.”
Fellow Year-13 student Manaia Tangaere agrees. She’s loving being a Kahurangi student, having come to Auckland Girls’ from Clendon Park School’s bilingual unit.
“I came to Auckland Girls’ Grammar because of Kahurangi and because it’s a bilingual unit. It’s a whanau within a mainstream school where it’s all wahine and where we flourish in our mana wahine, our pride … and what it is to be a woman.”
AGGS’ Kahurangi students have the same opportunities open to other students at the school but – as well as learning Te Reo Maori – they also have additional kaupapa Maori activities and take part in kapa haka.
“Not many students are in Kahurangi,” explains Manaia, “so it gives us more of an opportunity as priority learners within the school. Also Kahurangi is an opportunity for us to revitalise our language, so within a mainstream school we are able to do that with our Te Reo Maori - and bring our Maori culture within the school.”
Year 10 student Kendall MacDonald is fluent in Te Reo Maori and as a younger Kahurangi pupil is thriving in such a supportive environment.
Kendall explains: “I went to a school called Matauri Bay but before that I went to Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Whangaroa and for me coming to AGGS, Kahurangi has been a big impact on my life because the whanau has influenced me so much. I don’t always feel the need to ask help from my teachers because I can go to my peers.
“It’s important for me to do Maori and I think that I can still push myself to do more. Coming from a kura kaupapa I know quite a lot so having Kahurangi has allowed me to push myself and challenge myself to do more.”
Kendall’s time in AGGS’ Kahurangi unit is really just beginning, but for Ravin and Manaia it’s coming to a close as they face life ‘in the real world’ – something both young women believe life after secondary school will be much easier because of Kahurangi.
Says Manaia: “I feel like Kahurangi will follow me through into any of my future endeavours which I choose to pursue and I feel like I will always have their support – not only from them but from my previous school that I’ve come from, just because I’ve been in that whanau-based kaupapa.”
And Ravin says having had the opportunity of a bilingual, bicultural education is something she, too, will always appreciate.
“I think it shows the development of our nation because in the past I know that my grandparents and their parents were unable to even speak Te Reo Maori – let alone learn it,” she says.
“So it’s a testament to them and to all that they did for us and for the future generations of Maori people. They built this pathway for us. And I’m proud to be able to stand confidently in Te Ao Pakeha - and everything that comes along with that - while standing strong as a Maori wahine.”