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He wai, he oranga, tiakina!

Nā Peti Nohotima and Frances Goulton

This story outlines briefly the gift of water in her various forms, asking us to recognise the sacred guardianship that our tīpuna, offered in the respect they showed for water. Today we as descendants of those ancestors, can still remain vigilant in keeping this role of guardianship by caring for and protecting our waterways.

'He wai, he oranga, tiakina!' story by Peti Nohotima and Frances Goulton, with page numbers from He Kohikohinga 36.

Features to consider from the text

  • The text is structured as a simple narrative.
  • How Ranginui and Papatūānuku continue to impact on our everyday lives.
  • The simplicity of paragraphs incorporating both tikanga and guardianship ideals.
  • The ideas offered at the end of the text that allows students to consider how they might care for our waterways.



  • Illustrations to support text
  • Acknowledgement of the relationship between tikanga and water
  • Bullet points for further consideration and action by students


  • Words and ideas that some students may find challenging: māhoehoe, penapena
  • Relating their own role of guardianship to their own waterways
  • How students might bring meaning to their pepeha (ko te awa ko Manawatū, te manawa o te whenua)

Language features

  • E ai ki ... Arā, i tīmata mai ... ka pakaru mai te aroha o ...
  • 'Kia ū tātou' ...
  • Kia taea ai e tōna ... noho āhuru

Introducing students to the text

  • Discuss the title and its possible meaning, and how they might see water needing to be protected. Why is it necessary to protect our waterways?
  • Discuss and draw out students own knowledge about the water cycle, attempt to get them to relate it to our story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku.
  • Consider the journey of a river from the mountains to the sea.
  • List ways of looking after our waterways.

Reading to:

It is important that you read this text with students. There are a number of key concepts within this story that will need careful guidance if students are to gain both meaning and understanding. More importantly however, will be how students think about their role as guardians of our waterways.

During the reading

  • Encourage students to identify phrases and words that they are not familiar with. Before reading you should identify what these may be, and prepare brief explanations, (see language features).
  • What ideas are created in the students mind during the reading. It is important to help students create pictures in their mind, both local, and further a field from the text.

After the reading: Responding to the text

Possible focuses for discussion

  • Explain what the authors might mean when talking about he oranga tō te wai (wairua, tinana, hinengaro, whenua, tipu, kai, me ērā atu anō).

What might being a guardian of your local stream, river, sea, lake mean?

Why might water be considered to be a taonga or he koha tuku iho?

What other functions does water have within our culture/other cultures (recreation, irrigation etc).

Ask students to consider the impact of a world without water, or with water that is no longer able to be used by humans.

Think about creating your own water purifier, and how these ideas can be transferred to water purification on a larger scale.

Suggested activities

Ngā pūkenga

Learning outcomes

Learning experiences

  Students will be able to: Students could:
Ko te whakahiato kōrero e puta mai ana i ngā tuhinga (p.77) present ideas using a simple layout (group activity) develop a water protection plan for either your coastline or river
Ko te tuhi whakamārama poto (p.85) think creatively write your own story about where water comes from. Write a legend of how a river stopped flowing and how someone made it all right again
Ko te whakaraupapa i ngā kōrero, i ngā kaupapa rānei o tētahi tuhinga kōrero (p.85) Think critically. Understand the water cycle (group activity) draw the water cycle and identify and explain areas that are most at risk from pollution
Ko te tāutu i te pūtake o tētahi kōrero kia whakaaturia atu (p.103) Advertise the impact of pollutants on our waterways (group activity) prepare a script for TV (5 minutes) about keeping our waterways clean
Ko te āta whakaraupapa i ngā whakaaro, i ngā whakamārama me ngā tohutohu (p.86) letter writing write a letter to the editor outlining concerns that you may have with water pollution
Ko te tīpako mōhio mai i ngā tuhinga māmā hei whakaea i tētahi kaupapa motuhake (p.77) search for relevant information from teacher prepared notes or photographs research topic: look at other cultures and how they use their own waterways, (the river Nile in Egypt, the Ganges in India, the Amazon in South America, the Murray river in Australia

Cross-curricular links

Pūtaiao: The water cycle; water pollution; environmental issues and conservation.
Ngā Toi: Mural, illustrations.
Tikanga ā-iwi: People impact upon the environment.

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