Beth&herPoiPrincessWhanauAbout me….. and my journey so far

So a bit about me. I grew up with my single mother who is a Pākehā woman. She really knew very little about the Māori culture but she did tell me that I was Māori and encouraged me to embrace it and learn about my Māori heritage. However, growing up in small towns it was often hard to get involved in many activities that would teach me about my Māori heritage and what it was to be Māori.

This was a challenge growing up and even later in life because people can be quick to judge the outside and I am a light shade of brown and I grew up in predominantly pākeha communities or where Māori families had strong ties to their own whanau and their own history. This sometimes meant not fitting in and an empty piece in me, where my fathers side of the family should have been.

The start of my journey to find my missing pieces began in my teens. I went on a marae stay camp for girls. This sparked the beginnings of some deep love and appreciation for the Māori culture and a feeling that things which had been missing could be found. I took on new challenges and learnt whatever was around from then on, through books, organisations and people I met along the way.

In 2003 I started studying a 3 year Diploma in Early Childhood Education. I loved the Māori section and the Human development subjects. I used every opportunity to get mixed placements to learn in diverse environments. In my last year I badly wanted to get experience in a bilingual Centre in Otautahi (Christchurch). I had learnt some Māori language and tikanga and wanted badly to be immersed in it and share my talents and new found skills in that setting as well. After completing the placement I fell in love. The supervisor was so passionate and inspiring (Erin) and the children were so lively and spirited. I desperately wanted a job there! I managed to get some relieving for a couple of months and eventually they did employ me. I also started studying Level 1 at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, where I met an amazing kaiako (Kaharoa) who not only taught me reo but was able to fill in some gaps about my whakapapa and whanau Māori.

Ko Aoraki te mauka

Ko Waitaki te awa

Ko Takitimu te waka

Ko Kati Huirapa te hapu

Ko Kai Tahu toku iwi

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

My passion for Māoritanga really took off after that and I tried to take in as much as I could and share what I knew with the tamariki I worked with.

One of my other passions is resources. I enjoy art and creating things. This worked well in an environment where funding and resources can be limited. I always tried to create resources that were inviting and encouraging for the tamariki. One specific thing that I noticed in our environment was our poi were forever busting. This was particularly disappointing during kapahaka sessions. I enquired around and a work collegue (Jazzy) invited me to her home and taught me how to make poi. I learnt and practised and combined some ideas. I made a few sets for friend and whanau and more people saw them and got excited about them. Someone from the University of Canterbury put my details up on the website and people started ordering poi from me. That went on for a few years on and off when people contacted me or I advertised to make a little extra money. I’ve made hundreds of sets of poi since then.

During this time I have had positive feedback including that they have lasted very well and children love them. So that is one goal achieved which I set out to do.

I moved on to new challenges and kept teaching in a number of different places around the South Island and enjoyed the experience of seeing how many Centres run and what they had to offer. I loved the different ideas they all had. I worked for the majority of 7 years enjoying challenges like working with children with special needs or behavioural issues. I enjoyed finding different ways to engage with children and sometimes developing resources to help. I kept making poi and I did a little research with teachers and the feedback I got was there was not enough Māori resources on the market.

 

In 2012 My first daughter (Wairua) was born so I took time off work. I put many hours into teaching her, just like I did with tamariki at Preschool encouraging her in every way I could and of course I really wanted her to learn about her Māori heritage along with te reo Māori that I knew. We watched quite a bit of Maori TV to encourage the love of the language and especially a love for kapahaka and we have continued to learn together. Alongside this I wanted to provide her with resources that reflect the beauty of Māori things and faces. I found this particularly hard in general when looking in shops and I felt I wanted to change this.

When she was about 8 months old I did a night class and completed a certificate in small business management at Barbican. This helped me to really consider what I wanted my business to look like.

 

Last year in 2015 I decided I needed to learn more reo for myself, my daughter and for my business development. I did a level 1-4 certificate in Te reo Māori.

I don’t believe the learning will ever end. The more you learn the more you realise you don’t know. So I have accepted this as the journey I am on. I gave birth to our second daughter this year (Manawa). So I have 2 children now and I really want them to grow up feeling comfortable in both the Māori and Pākehā worlds. So it’s my duty to keep learning and trying for them as well as myself. It is important for me with my background that they develop a strong sense of self and pride when they are young. Also if I can help other people to encourage and embrace that while I do what I do then even better.

 

Through these experiences I have continued reading, continued doing research on various topics and I have alot of ideas. I have begun to try and pull them all together. My business now stocks a number of products but I want to stock a lot more. Over the years I have done a few surveys and got a lot of feedback from teachers who are still struggling with the amount of resources out there and how to incorporate these within their daily routines.

 

Overall, my vision is to specialise in Maori resources for children and offer the biggest range of quality goods that help teachers/parents encourage a love for all things Māori within the Early Childhood setting or home and make that easy. A place where they can find resources that will encourage learning in a holistic and contextual way. I believe everyone should have access to appropriate Māori resources that are affordable and cater for different learning styles. I am also hoping one day, all things Maori will be mainstream for the entire country to love and embrace.

Thank you so much for your support and stopping by to check out my website. Feel free to contact me about any ideas you have, photos of my products in action, any feedback, resources you might like to see or any orders you would like to make.

Ngā mihi nui

Beth