New te reo singalong book features Matapihi youngsters exploring nature

All children at Matapihi Kindergarten now have their own glossy te reo singalong book – complete with CD – showing pictures of their exploration of the kindy’s lush, eight-acre bushclad playground.

The teachers too have all been given a complimentary copy of ‘Te Taiao’ (The Natural World), one of the latest in an interactive series of te reo books for early childhood education.

“We’re excited to see it published in time for Māori Language Week (this week),” kindergarten co-owner and teacher Angela Kimber told the Chronicle.

The book features Metua and Hana Herbert on the front cover and a happily mud-spattered Dizzy Coulden-Lavers on the back, while fullpage colour photographs inside show Matapihi youngsters doing simple things in the great outdoors like eeling, crossing the stream via a plank, walking the “wobbly ropes” tied to trees, playing hide-and-seek in the native bush and jumping jubilantly in mud puddles.

Each picture has a brief sentence in te reo explaining exactly what they’re up to.

And what they’re up to is all part of the kindergarten’s Uru Taiao programme which has attracted both national and international interest over the years, with educators visiting Matapihi from as far afield as Scandinavia and Kazakhstan.

Uru Taiao translates as entering into the realms of nature, Angela explains, but more simply put it means the children get to go bush one day a week and basically connect with nature.

‘Te Taiao’ author Sharon Holt, who is from Te Awamutu, was so impressed with the concept when Angela spoke about it at a “nature nurture” conference last year that she then visited the Te Mata kindergarten to see for herself how it worked.

“My own experience of spending a morning with the children in Uru Taiao encouraged me to do a te reo singalong book about this kind of unstructured play in nature,” she says.

Renowned photographer Rachael Hale McKenna then captured the children in their natural environment, doing what they do rain or shine on “bush kindy” days.

The end result is an inspiring 24-page te reo teaching and learning resource with English translations and ideas for follow-up activities. Also included at the back of the softcover book are a CD and the guitar chords needed for singalong sessions.

Edith Symes

● To go in the draw for a complimentary copy of the book just email with ‘Te Taiao’ in the subject line.

● To enroll children at Matapihi Kindergarten ph 825 7875.