When listening to Tamsin Hanly talk to Principals about her 'Histories of Aotearoa' resource at a M.A.C. hui in Auckland in 2014, I had a 'light bulb' moment. I had been trying ever since I was first Principal of Hurupaki School, to establish a true bi-cultural environment that valued the 25% Maori children, the 65% Pakeha children and the 10% 'others' - very small numbers of many other races - as well as pay tribute to the unique place of New Zealand in this mix.
Looking at MOE guidelines and publications that were available, I found them helpful in the 'why' we should be honouring Treaty of Waitangi principles in our schools but no-one seemed to have the 'how'. That was when the light went on - I could finally see how to lead this development in my school.
I pursued Tamsin, who was busy completing the writing of her resource, until she agreed to come and lead a Teacher-Only Day for us at the beginning of 2015. I had no pre-conceived ideas about how it would go, and I don't think Tamsin did either. Suffice to say, that the whole day was a huge success and the staff came on board with it very quickly. They were enthusiastic to include the first unit in the 2015 programme and made plans for how it would become an integral part of our school curriculum after that.
The 'Histories of Aotearoa' is such a comprehensive resource that it could take several years to complete the work in its entirety. The Hurupaki staff were keen to commit to at least two of the units each year as a start, to build a foundation for our children as they moved up through the school.
This was due in part, I believe, because of Tamsin's delivery of the topic. She was articulate, informative and had full command of her subject - albeit a potentially sensitive area to deal with. The staff warmed to her immediately and were able to see why I had insisted that she introduce the resource to us in person.
The age-old problem of 'you don't know what you don't know' was at last being addressed for our predominantly pakeha staff and I know that their confidence in including 'things Maori' in their day to day teaching and interactions will be considerably enhanced. Having the 'Histories of Aotearoa' available to increase their own personal knowledge will be a huge advantage. The fact that the units are written for schools, makes it a unique resource, I believe, and the best part - not a black-line master in sight! Teachers are free to explore and develop each topic as befits their own school and students.
Unfortunately, I have now retired and so cannot comment on the programme in action - only its promise. I would recommend Hanly's 'Histories of Aotearoa' to you - it might just be the light at the end of the tunnel for you and your school.
M.Ed., Adv.Dip.Tchg., Dip.Ed.Man., Dip.T.L.