Te Huka ā Tai 

Te Huka a Tai

Curriculum links

Learning areas

  • Social Studies
  • Technology
  • The Arts

Which strands will it fit with?

  • Social studies - Identity, Culture, and Organisation, Place and Environment
  • Technology - Nature of Technology 
  • The Arts - Visual Art - Understanding Visual Art in Context

Key Competencies

Thinking, Relating to others, Using language, symbols, and text, Participating and contributing

Levels of achievement

Levels 1-4

Year group

Years 1 – 8

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Which topics of study can it support?

  • Pacific Society Past and Present
  • Innovation and Invention
  • New Zealand History
  • Pūrākau - Storytelling

How long might this take?

Allow 15-20 minutes to explore Te Huka ā Tai.

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Where do I find it?

  • Level 4, between Mana Whenua and The Marae.
  • Lost? Ask a Te Papa Host.

Why should I take my class to visit this?

  • One of four Discovery Centres at Te Papa, Te Huka ā Tai provides an interactive area based on Māori heritage and history.

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What is there to do there?

  • Check out the awesome kids’ art contributed by different schools around New Zealand.
  • Have a look in the light purple wakahuia (treasure case). See what staff from Te Papa and students from various schools have chosen to display as their taonga (treasures).
  • Learn about whānaungatanga – the links to your family and your extended family.
  • Take the opportunity to see a rākau whakapapa – a staff that a speaker will use to recite genealogy. The notches on the staff help the speaker keep track of the different generations of ancestors.
  • Look at the Tapuwae Tīpuna map, which shows the original Māori names for various historical and significant places in and around Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour).
  • Try on some of the beautiful costumes based on traditional Māori kākahu (clothing).
  • Check out the research room books for information on Māori heritage and history.
  • Test your poi swinging skills.
  • Play some traditional Māori games such as tī rākau (stick games), mahi whai (string games), and ruru (knucklebones).
  • Have a go at weaving and then look at some taonga made from harakeke (New Zealand flax).

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What should I know about this?

  • Te Huka ā Tai is one of four Discovery Centres at Te Papa and is located on Level 4 near the Mākōtukutuku wharepuni.
  • Te Huka ā Tai refers to one of the two mauri (life force) stones brought back by Tāne in his search for the three baskets of knowledge. The white pebble, Te Huka ā Tai, was placed in a student’s mouth, which signified the student’s willingness to absorb knowledge and to learn.
  • Every two years or so the ‘iwi (tribal group) in residence’ at Te Papa changes. The iwi has an exhibition as part of the Mana Whenua exhibition. During this time artwork from selected schools in the iwi area is exhibited in Te Huka ā Tai.

Possible topics for discussion

  • Look at the Tapuwae Tīpuna map. Can you see any similarities between the original place names and the names used today? If so, what are the names?
  • Can you find out what Te Huka ā Tai means? Why do you think this Discovery Centre has been given that name?
  • Look at the children’s artwork. Without reading the label what do you think the artwork represents? What kinds of materials have been used?
  • Look around Te Huka ā Tai for three Māori words that you have not seen before. Can you investigate their meaning?
  • Think about something in your life that you would choose as your taonga (special treasure). Why would you choose that?
  • Choose one of the Te Papa staff members’ taonga. What is it and what might it be used for? What do you think it has been made from?
  • What are some things made from harakeke? What are they used for?

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Related material

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