Sharing new cultural knowledge and experiences supports children to develop respect and aroha for one another. Embracing diverse cultures creates an equitable learning environment for all tamariki, as we celebrate and affirm who we all are and in return create a positive awareness and understanding, of our own and other cultures.

We are given many opportunities to celebrate different cultures with the children in our Centre, one being the language weeks that fall throughout the year. Conveniently, a few of these language weeks fall during September, when Auckland was under a COVID lockdown. This gave us an opportunity for Lupe, our kaiako (teacher), to integrate some of the languages that make up our whānau into the virtual mat times she was running with the Centre’s children, who were safely at home in their bubbles.

Kaiako Lupe started their celebrations with Tongan language week in early September.

She focused on teaching the children malo e lelei (hello) and counting to five! Taha, ua, tolu, fa, nima.

Every mat time Kaiako Lupe got the children to do some stretching or something active. For Tongan Language Week the stand-up and stretch song was heads, shoulders, knees, and toes in Tongan! 

Later in September, our Virtual Mat times celebrated Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori – Maori Language Week with the rest of the country. Kaiako Lupe got the children to explore some calming mahi whakapakari tinana (physical activity) with some yoga in te reo. 

She also taught the children about their favourite farm animals, encouraging them to use their te reo names instead of their English names.

One of our favourite parts of Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori was when Kaiako Lupe sung tirama, tirama, nga whetu (twinkle, twinkle, little star) with the children, which we also shared with our wider Great Potentials whānau on our Facebook page.

Kaiako Lupe ended September with Tuvalu Language week, which was extra special for her as it is one of the islands she is from.

The stand-up and stretch song was a dance to a Tuvaluan song call Terikiai 

Kaiako Lupe also talked to the children about the traditional dancewear in Tuvalu – the Titi skirt. She also shared how easy it is to make your dancing skirt at home. All you need is a rubbish bag and a piece of string. You cut up the bag into long strips and tie the strips onto the piece of string and wear it around your waist – and you have made your very own Titi! A great activity for the children who were still in Level Three lockdowns.