The Google dictionary tells us that education is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction”. The Google dictionary, it would seem, has a knack for making things that should be fun (adj. amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable), rather boring (adj. not interesting; tedious).
Thankfully, none of the Change Makers at the Whanganui Learning Centre who are part of the Connecting Education and Communities project looked up the definition of education online, preferring instead to redefine education as support, awhi, a space to share, a goal to achieve or a dream to make real. The Change Makers meet regularly every week to look at what’s happening within their own whānau and community and come up with ideas how to change things and make them better.
In September, the Change Makers are connecting their whānau and communities with education through the Whanganui Festival of Learning, which is themed around identity and journeying, and will be headlined with a waka exhibition. The exhibition looks at waka as the vehicles, such as canoes, sailing ships, cars, boats or planes, that have brought families/whānau to Whanganui or to Aotearoa/New Zealand. The goal of the exhibition is to have each whanau share their journeys and in doing so to connect with education, and each other.
Change Makers Bree (second from left) and Emeline (middle, seated) along with (seated from left) Lucas, Mareca and Ulamila. Standing are Gail Imhoff, Jen McDonald and Margie Beautrais. [Photo: Wanganui Midweek]
UPDATE SEPT 2018 700 children and whānau groups contributed their waka to the Festival of Learning. The response to the festival was so great that the waka couldn’t fit into the Whanganui Regional Museum’s temporary premises and a second display had to be created in another venue. Whilst the Festival of Learning has now finished, the museum will continue to offer a programme about waka hourua and emphasising whakapapa to participants.
You can read more about the waka and the Festival of Learning here, and here, or see the Māori television coverage here.