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Matariki: this iconic New Zealand celebration is set to become a public holiday in 2022.

But what’s it about, why is it important, and what can we as kaiako learn from the observation of Matariki?

This wā whakanui—time of celebration and commemoration—is often referred to as the “New Year” of te ao Māori. As the Matariki cluster of stars rises and winter sets in, tradition is to remember those who were lost during the year, acknowledge the cycle of life and death, and let go of the past year before entering a new one. It is reflective but also celebratory. A time for feasting, songs, stories, and thanksgiving. A harvest and preparation for winter.

What does it teach us, that we can infuse into our lessons during this time and beyond?

Caring for the planet

This period of reflection and thanksgiving for life in New Zealand and what the whenua provides can be linked to a very important concept: sustainability. This is not merely a buzzword—it’s something we need to take seriously in all areas of education. Matariki is a reminder to teach our tamariki about sustainable practices, and also to engage in them ourselves.

How are you ensuring that your digital learning programs operate in a way that’s eco-friendly?

Natural rhythms

One of the primary things that Matariki highlights is an appreciation for the natural rhythms of the earth, the weather, the stars, and more. Observing natural or established rhythms as a chance to reflect is good practice for educators. We can carry this idea into the school year: after each week, term, and year, setting aside space to reflect on what was good and adjust what wasn’t.

Why not take this mid-year opportunity to reflect and take stock of your and your students’ progress since January? Digital learning can seem somewhat removed from the natural world and its rhythms—so take care to discuss and incorporate these.

Digital equity

We’ve said it before:

To achieve or get closer to digital equity in education here in Aotearoa, we need to take into account all voices. And it starts here. We can whakanui te ao Māori and broaden students’ understanding of the diversity of our nation by observing Matariki.

Learning from each others’ unique voices and perspectives is something very important in the digital learning sphere: Kaiako can learn from fellow educators in different schools and sectors. Primary teachers. Secondary teachers. Tertiary teachers. There are many ways we can learn from each other by discussing our similar-but-different challenges on the e-Learning journey.

Here’s a reflection from around this time last year: learning looked a lot different as students pivoted and adjusted to receiving their lessons in a range of digital formats. Take a look here to see Stephen in June last year, having a great time helping to present a Matariki-themed maths lesson on Home Learning TV.

We encourage you to think about how Matariki can become a part of your lessons this month, and also how the principles it embodies can guide your teaching now and throughout the year.

Noho ora mai!


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