From Tūhorangi Ngāti Wāhiao penny divers to scuba divers – Te Ao Māori News

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Whakarewarewa School in Rotoruaruns an outdoor education programme, Hōtaka Ihiihi, which teaches years 7 and 8 students fishing.

Whakarewarewa School in Rotorua is into its second year running an outdoor education programme, Hōtaka Ihiihi, which teaches years 7 and 8 students fishing, drumming, weaving, and scuba diving.

The four learning initiatives are taught in and around Rotorua connecting the students to their backyards and what the taiao (environment) has to offer as a means to learning.

Reuben Edwards, a kaiako from the school and local Tūhourangi Village whānau member, has been supervising the children taking part in the ruku (diving programme) at the Rotorua Aquatics Centre.

“They all love swimming, they have that penny diver blood in them. It’s great they can showcase their tūhourangitanga, Edwards says.

Keen tamariki learning about water safety

The ruku programme is taught by the owner of Aotearoa Dive, a certified dive master with15 years’ experience, Maketu local Renee Tapsell.

She is teaching the children everything from free diving to scuba diving.

Tapsell is intrigued by the aptitude of all the students wanting to learn.

“They are like a sponge, they learn quickly. These tamariki love the water and they are becoming more and more confident in the water each lesson,” she said.

The children are having a lot of fun under the water trying scuba diving through hoops and playing snakes and ladders underwater.

But Tapsell has also seen this programme as an opportunity to teach the children about water safety. Training, good equipment and health awareness have been found to reduce injuries and deaths in New Zealand waters so Tapsell is happy to be sharing these life-saving water skills with the children of Whakarewarewa School.

The program Hōtaka Ihiihi runs for 1 week of every school term of the year. The children rotate each term, there are 20, years 7 & 8 students at the school of 105 students in total. The program is in its second year. Principal Jackie Meha sees this program as a way to keep the children engaged at school and enjoying learning. Both Kia kaaterama Chanel- Kiri Pou and Lisa Te Aurere Reweti who teach at the school have seen a change in the student’s attendance, confidents, and willingness to learn since the introduction of Hōtaka Ihiihi. “Some were not attending school as much but when this program started attendance did improve”, said Reweti. And Pou added, “We just hope these kids will take what they have learned and in the future provide for their families and marae”.

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