Teaching children cultural values through music

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Writer and Singer/Songwriter June Pitman-Hayes (Ngāpuhi) has transformed her song composition Tāwhirimātea into a book for Kōhanga Reo, Kindergartens and family homes around the country. The illustrated book has been published in both Māori and English and also comes with a CD.

When asked to teach song to schoolchildren, June Pitman-Hayes draws on her culture.

She says, “I was really looking for fresh material to teach the Tamariki and material that would teach them our Māori culture.”

In writing the book June says she was inspired by the environment.

“I was about to go and teach and I had no new resources and it was a really windy day in June winter 2015, the wind was howling around my house and so the line Tāwhirimātea blow winds blow came into my mind and from there it on it sort of gathered momentum.”

June says the book holds hidden messages that teach kids about Māori cultural practices and values.

 “There's part of the song that talks about tamariki playing along the shore so there's shellfish gathering and saying haere mai its time to go home we have plenty of kaimoana to share so, in other words, taking what you need not taking more than you need.”

Now June will voice Māori and English Kiwiana versions of the renown New Zealand lullaby, Hush a Kiwi.