Monday, 30 September 2013

Henare Tahuri: The Different Faces and Places of Learning

Karyn’s Introduction:

We all come from different places in our own learning experiences, and these experiences shape the learning we offer to our students. Henare shares some powerful memories of his earlier encounters with learning which in turn make us, as readers, consider how our learners are faring in their journey to understand the place and  face  of learning in their lives

The Different Places and Faces of Learning

Ko Henare Tahuri tōku ingoa.
Nō Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa me Tūhoe ki Ruataahuna ahau.

I would like to start off my 1st blog by letting you know who I am and where I come from. As stated in my short pepeha above my name is Henare and I am from 2 tribal areas, Kahungunu in Wairoa and Tuhoe from Ruataahuna.

The shearing sheds where my parents worked was my kohanga, my first preschool education environment. The marae where our wider family members would meet for the various marae hui, from birthdays to tangihanga, sports events like rugby, netball, softball, and darts to Karakia, were also every stable places of learning. 

I still have memories of my first year at Primary school. My very first teacher was Mrs Mita, an elderly lady, very polite and oh so patient. I can still hear her voice as she taught me the difference between to and too. She emphasised and dragged the too as though the tooooo sound had no end. I also remember her saying while teaching me how to write, that my writing down the page look somewhat like a racing track, because it was not straight in line with the margin. I remember feeling happy and full of joy and excitement to be at school learning with Mrs Mita because she made me feel important and happy.
I wonder sometimes why I am still able to remember those few moments quite vividly, I suppose first impressions last a lifetime. 

I think I just drifted through the rest of my primary years at school from one day to the next not even knowing why I was at school. 
Why was I at school? What a very good question. 
I just took it as, “well everyone else is here and that’s why I am here”. 
“If I’m not at school then I will probably be at the shearing shed, but I’m not at the shearing shed and that’s why I’m at school”

I just thought that school was classroom schoolwork, with a playtime, a lunchtime and a little playtime in the afternoons to break the monotony of that classroom schoolwork stuff or learning. 
Oh and not to mention the routine, night time growling’s of trying to read a book at home. 
Why do teachers do that to children, I mean shouldn’t they be teaching reading? Why send a book home for the child to be screamed at, (not all the time), but enough for those unpleasant memories to stick.

It makes me wonder, school-learning at school yeah that works, school-learning at home, um? No way that’s just asking for freaking trouble.
You see, at school I felt a bit more comfortable with schoolwork learning and not knowing how to do or say things. I suppose it was the teachers job to teach you and to only strap you for being naughty not for being hopeless at schoolwork. 

Actually come to think of it, I think they did something much worse, sometimes they’d just leave you alone to figure it out for yourself or if you didn’t get it and couldn’t keep up with everyone else then you were simply left behind, which resulted in reading groups for slow learners, yep I was the captain of that group.

Home to me was supposed to be a place where you could rest from schoolwork, “but no”, teachers must have thought that 5 hours a day, for 5 days a week for the rest of our lives wasn’t enough, nah, lets make the little critters suffer some more at home, ha, ha, ha.
Needless to say, homework every night was ‘awesome’ with a capital ‘o’, thank you Mr MP minister of homework.

How about the activities and things that I was doing with friends and cousins after school and on the weekends at the marae and or at the shearing sheds that had nothing directly to do with schoolwork but nevertheless learning all the same. 
You see I was never yelled at or given a growling for any of that learning, sure I was growled and kicked up the bum for doing mischief stuff but, I was hardly ever made to feel worthless like I felt when trying to read a book or spell words for home work.

I suppose, ‘what I’m trying to say is’, back then, in my experience, there was a time and place for things like in-school learning and out-of-school learning. 
Parents needed to have a certain type of attitude towards learning and the appropriate strategies to help kids learn.

My Dad is a clever person, he enjoys reading books, he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things. He was well educated and I think he really enjoyed his time at school. Learning how to read a book and spell words must have been easy for him, so why couldn’t his son understand and comprehend in the same way. I really think he thought that I was just being lazy. Hey, maybe I was, ‘but you know what’, when you just can’t do something for what ever reason then you just can’t do it, no amount of screaming and yelling is going to make a difference. 

My mum, well she had me at the age of 15 so I think she left school before or just after she got pregnant, she wasn’t too flash at reading and spelling, actually to this day she still struggles with basic literacy. However, she is amazing and has awesome skills in the workforce where knowing how to read or spell is not a major factor. I know my mum sincerely wanted to help me back then, but did not have the capacity to do so. I could actually feel of her concern and sorrow for me as she tried her best. I suppose she felt ashamed being powerless to assist in my progression as her own demons of not being able to read and write fell upon me. 

Why is schoolwork like this for some of our kids?

If you enjoy something then you continue to do it.

In order for you to enjoy something you need to know and understand it.

Learning is indeed full of fun and excitement. It isn’t all gloom and doom as I may have portrayed it to be from my piece of writing. It is however something that disguises it self and is easily manipulated by individuals to empower or overthrow ones capacity to progress and move forward or sidewards. 

I am learning and learning is me. It is our constant companion moving and turning as we ourselves move. Where is it you may ask? here, there, everywhere and nowhere.
Hiding go seek, 1, 2, 3.

Anei tāku mo tēnei wā, mā te wā pea ka blog anō.


  1. Except for the last English paragraph (which i cant understand), i really enjoyed your blog. Lovely theme, interesting points amusingly presented .

  2. I disagree Carlyn, I think that last paragraph is the best. "I am learning and learning is me. It is our constant companion moving and turning as we ourselves move." is a great quote. You learn whatever you will, however you do, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.

  3. Lets play with this.. I am thinking, walking, eating .... so thinking, walking, eating is me ?

    One of the reasons I adore Henare is that he is so much more than his thoughts and actions.

  4. You do thinking, walking, eating, but what you learn makes you who you are and changes who you are. I love it.