15 May 2013

Iwi and school launch history sharing project

9:30 am on 15 May 2013

An iwi has described a school's efforts to share Maori history as exceptional.

Wellington High School and Taranaki Whanui on Tuesday formed an alliance to ensure pupils have a deeper understanding of the whenua.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust Chair, Mahara Okeroa (left) and Wellington High School teacher Michael Harcourt.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust Chair, Mahara Okeroa (left) and Wellington High School teacher Michael Harcourt. Photo: RNZ

The project is called Nga Korero o Nehera - stories of the past.

It's being driven by a young teacher, Michael Harcourt, who says it's important for students to understand the different layers of history beneath their feet.

Mr Harcourt says migration, Wellington Harbour and Pukeahu (or Mount Cook) in the capital, will be among the topics studied.

He says those layers go back hundreds and hundreds of years, but they don't always see the light of day in the New Zealand history curriculum.

The Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust - the business arm of Taranaki Whanui - is right behind the venture.

Chair Mahara Okeroa says descendants want to share their tribal stories.

He says the Wellington iwi has groups of people who are well versed in the local history of what happened in Te Whanganui-a-Tara before 1840. They can give not only guidance, but a knowledge base that is something to celebrate.

Mr Okeroa is relieved that local students are embracing the history of tangata whenua and says for years he's been pushing for better understanding and acceptability of Maori history.

Wellington High School says the collaboration is about taking history out of the classroom and putting it into the landscape.