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Education Blog

Here on our blog we share posts about our programmes, relevant current events and key historical events and people relating to the stories of Waitangi. To find out about our onsite Education Experience, onsite Digital Learning programme, or Virtual Experience for your class, please contact education@waitangi.org.nz

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An independent nation

28/10/2020   185 years ago today, in 1835, 34 rangatira (tribal leaders) met at James Busby’s Waitangi home to sign a document declaring this nation’s independence. He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) arose from concerns about the intentions of the ever-increasing European settlers. Britain’s official recognition of this document was significant for both Māori and British.

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Ngā Kiri Kapia

21/10/2020   Kauri gum has special significance for A Company, 28 (Māori) Battalion, nicknamed ‘ngā Kiri Kapia’ (the Gum Diggers). Many people in the North used to make a living digging up and selling the solidified resin from kauri trees. Te Rau Aroha museum commemorates the 720 ‘Gum Diggers’ who served with the A company in World War II, giving a glimpse of the wartime lives and experiences of these men.

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A busy Term 4

16/10/2020   Our education team looks forward to a busy Term 4 and meeting with the many school groups booked in for our various programmes. The first group to participate in our Education Experience this term came all the way from Queenstown – Year 10 students from Wakatipu High School.  They all agreed that being at Waitangi made history much “more real” for them as they pictured life in the Bay of Islands leading up to the signing of The Treaty/Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

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Protest at Parliament

13/10/2020   Today marks 45 years since 5, 000 marchers arrived at Parliament to present a 60, 000 strong petition highlighting Māori land loss. Organised by Māori land rights group Te Rōpū O Te Matakite and led by 79- year -old Whina (later Dame Whina) Cooper, the 1975 Land March left from Te Hāpua, Northland, and marched 1,100 kms throughout the North Island. It represented a milestone moment in the growing Māori cultural renaissance of the 1970s.

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Our native manu

7/10/2020   Our Holiday Programme this week is for the birds!  We’re learning about our unique native manu; some of these beautiful birds are often spotted here at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. We love families to drop in and get crafty together; we’ve been creating manu mobiles, masks, bird-feeders, collages and keyrings. Definitely some future ornithologists among our visitors!  Check out some of our manu activities and also links to give them a go at home.

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Term 3 snapshots

30/9/2020     We hosted a range of groups in Term 3 and look forward to a busy and more ‘normal’ Term 4!  Students engage with NZ history through our personalised hands-on Education Programmes.  Each group brings unique perspectives, gaining a deeper understanding of not only our history,  but also themselves and others. Thank you all for visiting; we love the new things we learn from you too. Take a look at some of our awesome visitors!


Te Tiriti in NZSL

24/9/2020  Te Wiki o te Reo TuriNew Zealand Sign Language Week, falls within Mahuru Māori. Over time many committed supporters have worked hard for both languages to be officially recognised and become part of everyday use. Did you know that the Treaty of Waitangi has been translated into 30 of the languages spoken in New Zealand, with NZSL the only one to have a Māori version, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, translation? 


Give us a sign!

21/9/2020  New Zealand Sign Language Week is a chance for the Deaf community to celebrate their language and culture and for everyone to learn some signing. NZSL reflects our culture with signs for Māori words and concepts which cannot be found in other sign languages. NZSL has been one of the country’s official languages since 2006, with more than 20 000 New Zealanders using te reo turi daily (2013 Census).

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Te Whārikī

20/9/2020   It’s said that if you want to know a culture, know their proverbs. Ngā whakataukī  are an integral part of the rich oral history of te Reo Māori; their insightful life lessons inspire reflection and personal growth. Many refer to connection with others. Te Kōngahu Museum ends with a whakatauki alongside a special pounamu kōhatu (greenstone boulder) – Te Whārikī kia mōhio ai tātou ki a tātou – The Tapestry of understanding. It embodies the weaving together of peoples and understandings in Aotearoa.


Our Māori placenames

16/9/2020  Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – a time to celebrate the richness of the Māori language in all its forms, including our Māori placenames which create a striking snapshot of New Zealand history and geography. They tell tales of romance, war, travel and discovery. Aotearoa has the record for the longest placename in the world, which tells quite a story.  One of the stories behind the name Waitangi  is a tale of romance and legacy – the story of Maikuku and Huatakaroa, with a little help from a taniwha! 

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Kia kaha te reo Māori!

15/9/2020  Te Wiki o te Reo Māori celebrates te reo Māori, a taonga that gives New Zealand its distinct and unique cultural identity. The often poetic karakia (incantations and prayers) are a rich part of the language. Used to invoke spiritual guidance and protection, to begin and end ceremonies, as ritual cleansing and to encourage good outcomes, modern karakia are blend of Christian and traditional influence.

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One in a million

12/9/2020  Te Wiki o te reo Māori starts with a defining moment -Te Wā Tuku Reo Māori /Māori Language Moment, with the goal of one million of us using te reo Māori at the same time. No matter where you’re from or how well you speak, play your part to strengthen te reo Māori.  Celebrate with waiata, kōrero, tākaro, pānui, ako, me whakarongo. Join the Māori Language Moment – be part of the journey to reach a million speakers by 2040! 

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International Literacy Day

8/9/2020   Today is International Literacy Day and next week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week). The arrival of Europeans in the early 1800s brought the new technology of literacy which Māori were keen to embrace;  they helped create its written form. In the 1830s literacy rapidly spread as Māori learned to read and write in their own language and by the mid-19th century they had a higher literacy rate than the settlers. 

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Carvers at work

3/9/2020  Students on our Education Experience sometimes visit our Carving Studio to learn more about the art and tradition of whakairo (carving). Our kaiwhakairo (carvers) are always keen to share their knowledge and artworks, answer questions and perhaps inspire future budding kaiwhakairo!  Carving is a celebrated expression of both storytelling and art in Māori culture and can be appreciated in many forms throughout the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.


Hongi's haerenga

31/8/2020   200 years ago, renowned Bay of Islands leader Hongi Hika and his relation Waikato travelled to Britain with Hongi’s friend, the missionary Thomas Kendall. The main purpose of this 1820 haerenga (journey) was to meet with King George IV.  “How d’ye do, Mr King George”, the chiefs greeted him, to which he replied, “How d’ye do Mr King Hongi ; Mr King Waikato”.  Can you imagine what a stir the two New Zealanders would have caused in Britain’s high society?

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Sharing our history

25/8/2020   Teaching history through factual content such as dates and events, can be meaningless for students unless put in context and viewed as part of the larger historical forces at work. The stories told in Te Rau Aroha museum help students to understand the connections between our past and the present, and to imagine possible futures. They recognise that they have a role and responsibility to consciously define this shared future.

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Too late for the French

21/8/2020   This week in NZ history: 17 August 1840 sees the arrival of the French ship Comte de Paris, at Akaroa on the South Island. Carrying the first French migrants, its mission was to found a settlement based on a dubious 1838 land purchase. It was too late; they found the Union Jack flying over Akaroa. There would be no colony under French rule. After negotiations with the British and local Māori, the French were allowed to stay and the settlement prospered. Today it retains its strong French heritage.

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Sharing our stories online

17/8/2020   We have to admit that nothing can replace actually coming to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds!  Soaking up the unique beauty, culture and history of Waitangi is very special for our visiting classes. But if you can’t get here just yet,  our education team would still love to share some of our stories with you in an interactive Virtual Experience. Choose from 3 topics that encourage students to think critically about our history.


NZ's first mission school opens

12/8/2020   On this day in 1816, the first mission school opens at the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) station in Rangihoua, Bay of Islands. The first schoolmaster, Thomas Kendall, was taught his first Māori by Tuai, of Bay of Islands hapū, Ngāre Raumati. Tuai’s teachings in Sydney 1813, led to Kendall  publishing the first book to use the Māori language in 1815; he used this book in his school.

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Digital learning at Waitangi

9/8/2020   Following lockdown, a big focus for New Zealand schools is wellbeing – important to this is knowing your identity. We recently had a Year 3 / 4 class from a Northland school in our Raranga Matihiko digital learning programme; they were learning more about where their ancestors came from and how they migrated to Aotearoa, to get a better understanding of themselves. They explored digital tools as part of this, 3D printing some of their ideas.

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This week in NZ history

6/8/2020  1st August 1987 finally saw te reo Māori recognised as an official language of New Zealand under the Māori Language Act. This was the result of a long struggle by Māori and their allies. The historic 1985 Te Reo Māori claim was one of the earliest Waitangi Tribunal claims, asserting that te reo Māori (the Māori language) was a taonga (treasure) the Crown should protect under the Treaty of Waitangi.

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Bringing history to life

29/7/2020    Hukerenui School recently took part in our Education Experience and enjoyed exploring the Treaty House, imagining life in this house for James and Agnes Busby and their six children. James arrived in the Bay of Islands 187 years ago as the first British Resident. History comes to life as students stand in the Parlour where the Treaty was drafted and picture James, quill pen in hand, at a very different table from the one here today.


The story of our three capitals

26/7/2020    New Zealand has had three capital cities – first Okiato (Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands from 1840, then a year later, Auckland, and finally Wellington. Today marks 155 years since a session of parliament officially met in Wellington for the first time on 26 July 1865.  Our capital’s moves were in large part directed by the rapidly expanding colony, influx of settlers and discovery of gold on the South Island in the 1860’s.

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'Our Matariki' Holiday Programme snapshots

20/7/2020     A big thank you to everyone who came along; over the week, about 150 children and their families joined us to learn about Matariki and enjoy fun activities, games and stories. Great to meet so many lovely tamariki and their whānau, both local and from all over New Zealand!  We love seeing families get creative, play traditional games with new friends or just chill out in our relaxed space during a busy visit to Waitangi. We captured some moments to share.


Capture the light to brighten your night

16/7/2020   Our holiday activity today is to create a tealight star jar lamp.  Matariki is a time to remember loved ones we’ve lost. Let the whētu shine out in their memory. You can also light it to celebrate the now, chase away the darkness and bring sweet dreams. Place it in your garden to twinkle away at night. Tomorrow’s the last day of our Matariki Holiday programme and we’ll make constellation viewers. Try some activities at home:  Matariki ideas and activities


Māori Star Compass Matariki Activities

15/7/2020    As part of Matariki activities, children explored early Polynesian navigation and Te Kāpehu Whetū – the Māori Star Compass. The waka (canoe) in the open ocean uses the horizon as a compass, the 360 degrees around it divided into quarters named after the four winds. The full horizon is divided into 32 different whare (houses). Their location depends on where the sun, moon and stars set and rise. Navigators followed stars such as Matariki to guide them across the Pacific.


Celebrate Matariki at our holiday programme

12/7/2020   Happy New Year! 13th July 2020 officially marks Matariki, the Māori New Year. It’s the first day of this week’s holiday programme so bring the kids, get creative with stars and learn about the Matariki family. Each star has a unique meaning and gift for our world and reminds us that we too have gifts to share. Gifts like working together with others, appreciating and caring for each other and our environment. Matariki encourages us to hope and dream, plan and set goals. Even wish on a star!

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July Holiday Programme - Our Matariki

7/7/2020   Join our education team for a week of Matariki-themed activities from July 13-17. Come along with your whānau anytime between 10am–1pm, learn about Matariki and get creative!  This year Matariki, the Māori New Year is officially celebrated on July 13. It is a time rich in tradition when whānau (family) gathered to remember the ancestors, reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. Find full details: July Holiday Programme

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Explore Ngātokimatawhaorua in 3D!

3/7/2020    Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world’s largest ceremonial waka taua (war canoe) was built for the 100-year commemorations of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  Keep reading to explore our waka in 3D!  Also check out our inspiring Waka Inquiry Units designed by our education team to support learning about historic and cultural importance, and designing and building of waka.

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Resources for Matariki - the Māori New Year

1/7/2020   Our education team has created two Inquiry Units to support teachers, students and whānau as they explore Matariki, the Māori New Year. Students can choose from a variety of practical and digital activities and discover how Matariki was celebrated in the past and how we can celebrate today. Keep reading to follow the links and download our inspiring Matariki teacher resources.

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Sancta Maria College visit

22/6/2020  History students from Sancta Maria College in Auckland visited Waitangi as part of a haerenga (journey) to see key historical sites relating to the Northern Wars. At the Flagstaff we explored the significance of Te Kara, New Zealand’s first flag. Students also explored crucial differences between the Māori and English versions of Te Tiriti/The Treaty in Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi.

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Welcome back to education groups!

19/6/2020  Our education team is pleased to be running onsite Education Programmes once again!  Students from Bay of Islands College, Kawakawa, spent time in our new museum, Te Rau Aroha, researching the role their tīpuna (ancestors) played during WW1 in the Māori Pioneer Battalion and WW2 in the 28 (Māori) Battalion. There were some special moments of connection and pride for these Year 11 students.



Tītokowaru's War

9/6/2020   152 years ago today, on 9th June 1868, Tītokowaru’s War began in South Taranaki, led by Ngā Ruahine leader Riwha Tītokowaru. His campaign to resist land confiscations during the wider New Zealand Wars almost brought the British government to its knees as he won a series of battles against the much larger colonial forces.


Raranga Matihiko TV

26/6/2020   The Raranga Matihiko team from Waitangi, Te Papa, MTG Hawke’s Bay and Waikato Museum have been working hard over the last 4 weeks to produce 16 episodes of Raranga Matihiko TV which will be broadcast over the next 2 weeks on the Home Learning TV| Pāpa Kainga TV channel.


NZ flag confirmed 1902

12/6/2020   The design of New Zealand’s national flag evolved over several years before being officially approved on June 12th 1902. Its origins date from 1865 when The British Government instructed that all ships from the colonies should fly the Blue Ensign with the seal or badge of the colony on it.


Code Tupaia's Journey

Our last post was about Tupaia and his travels from Ra’iātea to Aotearoa on James Cook’s ship The Endeavour. Today our digital activity is to code Tupaia’s journey using Scratch. Scratch is a free block-coding programme where you can create animations and games and share them with others around the world.

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Cook's Endeavour or Tupaia's Ship?

Did you know that without a certain wise Polynesian, our history could be quite different today? Tupaia was on the Endeavour , the ship commanded by Captain James Cook, and without him Cook may have never found New Zealand in 1769.  So how did this extraordinary high priest, navigator, mapmaker and translator come to be aboard?


Memory Bottle activity

In our last post, which looked at the arrival of Marion du Fresne to the Bay of Islands, we mentioned that his crew are said to have buried a bottle containing a declaration of possession. The French reportedly named this land France Australe but this ‘message in a bottle’ has never been found and it sparked an idea for an activity today.

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The 'Tribe of Marion'

The month of May marks a few notable anniversaries in the Bay of Islands.  In May 1772, 248 years ago, 2 ships arrived in the Bay of Islands under the command of French explorer, Marion du Fresne.


Arrival of James Busby

May 5th 2020, marks 187 years since James Busby sailed into the Bay of Islands in 1833 as New Zealand’s first British Resident. Busby was the answer to an 1831 petition for protection against lawlessness signed by 13 rangatira and sent to King William IV.

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He Waka eke Noa

Kia Ora from our Education team to teachers, students and whānau. He waka eke noa derives from the Māori whakataukī (proverb) and refers to working in unity and leaving no-one behind – it fits well with the journey we’re all on at this time.

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Holiday Programme -Taonga Tākaro Tākoha

Many local and international families enjoyed our school holiday programme themed around Māori treasures, games and gifts of the past, re-imagined with a contemporary twist. Through fun practical activities, families learnt about the significance of some of the art, culture and traditions in Te Ao Māori.

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Meri Kirihimete from the Ed Team!

The Waitangi Education Team wishes all teachers, students and whānau a very Merry Christmas 2019! Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our various Education Programmes during the past year – not only from throughout New Zealand but also from all around the world.

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Wakanui Meets Our Waka Nui!

Wakanui seemed the perfect name for a school to have at our waka nui – Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world’s largest waka taua (war canoe). At the waka, Year 7 and 8 students from Wakanui School, Ashburton, explored the stories our waka and whakairo (carvings)

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Exhibition - A Digital Tapestry of Tales

This colourful, interactive exhibition was created by students using a range of digital tools and storytelling techniques to share their understanding of NZ’s unique history, traditions and culture.  Be drawn into tales of adventure, conflict, love and loss, taonga, natural phenomena, community issues and dreams for the future.

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He Whakaputanga - Declaration of Independence

In 1835 on October 28, 34 northern chiefs signed He Whakaputunga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni, right here at the home of James Busby. This Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand declared New Zealand’s independence as a sovereign nation under the Māori chiefs.


Holiday Programme - Inspired by Nature

Over 200 children and their families enjoyed getting imaginative in our school holiday programme . Using  dried flowers to make special taonga such as bookmarks, flower and leaf creatures, sun catchers, key-rings, fridge magnets, badges and jewellery.

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Ko taku reo taku ohooho

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2019

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria  – My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul

This is a whakatauki (proverb) closely associated with language revitalization, a struggle which is very important in maintaining culture.

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Stories from Te Kōngahu Museum

Students of all ages enjoy delving into the stunning collection of unique stories and taonga (treasured objects) in Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi. Our educators guide students as they unravel the significance of the taonga to the story of our country’s founding.

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Russell Primary School visit

All our education visits are special, but these visitors are extra close to us– just across the water from Waitangi. Their school is in Russell, where New Zealand’s first capital was sited (at Okiato) after the Treaty signing.

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Waitangi - A Place to Connect and Reflect

The connections and reflections that grow out of visits to Waitangi are deep. Sharing stories in the place where it all happened really brings history to life for students. As we explore the taonga of Waitangi and experience all it has to offer, students develop a real sense of past events and the people that have gone before us.


New Zealand's first flag chosen 185 years ago

New Zealand’s first flag, Te Kara, was chosen and flew here at Waitangi exactly 185 years ago today and is still one of NZ’s official flags. Te Kara’s official name is the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand – Te Kara o Te Whakaminenga o Nga Hapu o Nu Tireni. Visiting schools are surprised to learn that NZ has two flags!


179th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty

Waitangi Treaty Grounds welcomed tens of thousands of people to celebrate New Zealand/Aotearoa’s founding document, signed here on the 6th February 1840.


Chinese-themed Holiday Programme

Our Holiday Programme links to our latest gallery exhibition – ‘Being Chinese in Aotearoa – A photographic journey’, which explores 175 years of fascinating history of Chinese New Zealanders, past and present.


Kia Kaha te Reo Māori!

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori- Māori Language Week, encourages New Zealanders to promote the use of the Māori language , which, along with English and New Zealand Sign Language, has been an official language of our country since 1987.


Student Focus Group a success

Students from 5 local schools recently spent a day with our Education Team taking part in all aspects of our programme. The purpose was to gather valuable student feedback and suggestions.


AFS Intercultural visit

This diverse group of students were honoured when one of their group played the role of ‘Chief’ for the visitors being welcomed into the Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House) for the Cultural Performance.


Japanese students visit

Our Education team enjoyed sharing some aspects of New Zealand’s culture and history with visiting Japanese students who are being hosted by Whangarei Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools.


Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe visit

Our Education Team recently had a fantastic visit with an awesome group of Year 9 and 10 students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe.


Matariki 2018

​Matariki was marked mid-winter when the storehouses were full after harvest time and people began to plan for the future.

New Digital Learning Lab

Waitangi Treaty Grounds is one of only three facilities nationwide selected by Te Papa Tongarewa Museum to deliver the state of the art digital programme, Raranga Matihiko – Weaving Digital Futures.


Kaikohe Christian School visit

During a recent visit from Kaikohe Christian School, the Year 8 and 9 students discovered a real interest in New Zealand’s history. They shared this enthusiasm in their awesome thank you letters.


Raranga Matihiko Teacher Planning Day

Raranga Matihiko is a Digital Technologies for All programme, funded by the Ministry of Education. We’re pleased to be working in partnership with Te Papa Tongarewa to deliver a Ministry of Education Digital Equity for All Equity Programme that supports student learning with the use of digital technologies.


Cannington School visit

All our visitors are special to us, but last week’s visit was even more special than usual: Students, teachers and parents from Cannington School in Cave, South Canterbury, came to spend Wednesday morning with Imogen here at the Treaty Grounds.


Welcome back to Term Two

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou, welcome back to Term 2! We hope you and your students had a relaxing term break and are ready to get back into learning! Term 1 is traditionally our busiest term; we had the pleasure of working with more than 2700 students since the beginning of the year.


Whangarei Boys' High visits

In March all Year 10 classes from Whangarei Boy’s High School visited us over the period of a week. The visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds included a Pōwhiri and Cultural Performance in Te Whare Rūnanga.


Albany Junior High School visit

We get the loveliest thank you notes from our visitors!

Te Kara - our first flag

Our first flag, Te Kara, is also known as the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand – Te Kara o Te Whakaminenga o Nga Hapu o Nu Tireni. It came about as trading grew between New South Wales and New Zealand. Patuone and Taonui, two important northern chiefs, were partners in the Sir George Murray, the first European-style ship built in New Zealand.