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Te taha wai

Nā Peti Nohotima and Frances Goulton

'Te taha wai' story by Peti Nohotima and Frances Goulton, with page numbers from He Kohikohinga 36.

This article introduces briefly four different bodies of water in which most students will be familiar with. It also notes some cautions that should be exercised at all times when around water. This article offers an ideal opportunity to discuss water safety and the types of hazards that can be found at each of these water locations. It notes that drowning is the third largest killer of New Zealanders.

Features to consider from the text

  • Introduces the idea that water is both a living source for humans (animals and life) as well as providing a source for recreation.
  • It offers practical advice in and around water.
  • Identifies key differences in each of the water bodies or features.
  • Acknowledges that iwi living beside these bodies of water have their own tikanga, which may vary from place to place.
  • Provides simple rules about water safety as they relate to each of the water bodies.
  • Allows students an opportunity to discuss and compare different water bodies.
  • This article provides of sources of water.



  • Illustrations support text
  • Marie offers a running commentary from how students may see things
  • Safety features are bullet pointed
  • Water body descriptions are highlighted


  • Words and ideas that some students may find challenging: whakararu, tirikohu, mōrearea, kakari, karapotia, manga, mauritau
  • Understanding the dangers of water and how they can avoid them
  • Developing a strong respect for water

Language features

  • tōna ake ngoi, tōna ake mana, tōna ake wairua
  • te rere o te ia o te wai … hōkai noa … tai pari, tai timu …
  • kei tēnā iwi, kei tēnā iwi

Introducing students to the text

  • Discuss and compare similarities and differences between the bodies of water that students are familiar with. (This may be paired or group act.)
  • Ask students to consider their own rivers, lakes and seas that they recite in their pepehā. This would be an excellent project where they can research, draw and discuss special features particular to their people.

During the reading

  • It is important students are guided through this article least key ideas are missed. Whilst reading with students, point out words and phrases that will need further clarification. For example, the origins of the sources of water, noting that lakes come from sources of springs within the belly of Papatūānuku.
  • Discuss each of the safety rules as they relate to each of the water bodies.
  • Most important is students understanding about being caught in a rip (te moana) and being swept along a current in the river.
  • Focus on the terms: kia mauritau, kei te awa anō tōna ake wairua, ā, kei tēnā iwi, kei tēnā iwi ō rātou ake tikanga, te ia o te wai, whakaaronui rawa atu ki te wai.

After the reading: Responding to the text

Possible focuses for discussion

  • Given that drowning is the third largest killer of New Zealanders how might we reduce the number of drownings. What laws if any should exist to ensure peoples' safety.
  • What stories or tikanga have you heard related to your river, lake or sea?
  • How might our waterways be made safer for all?
  • Divide students into four groups, giving each group responsibility for describing one of the water bodies. The group should be given time to do some of their own research which may involve simple texts translated and appropriate pictures for their presentation. On large sheets of paper ask them to identify key water safety tips in and around their water bodies. They should report their findings to the full class.

Suggested activities

Ngā pūkenga

Learning outcomes

Learning experiences

  Students will be able to: Students could:
Ko te whakamahi i tētahi āhuatanga reo ataata e whai hua ai te kōrero
describe the moon’s affect in causing tides research how the moon affects tidal movement
Ko te tāutu i te putake o tētahi kōrero kia whakaaturia atu (p.103) use words and illustrations to show understanding of water safety select one waterway and draw a water safety poster
Ko te whakamārama, ko te whakamāori i te reo ataata kātahi anō ka kitea, i runga anō i tāna i mōhio ai (p.95) understand water movement and how to identify these features both from a safety and cautionary perspective either visit the sea or watch a water safety video that shows how to identify a rip. Students should both explain what and how to come out safely
Ko te whakawhitiwhiti mōhio pono e māmā ana te āhua (p.67) show water movement and difference in paint and words paint group murals showing features of each of the four water bodies, then describe to group or class

Cross-curricular links

Pūtaiao: Tides, sea and river currents.
Hauora: Safety in the water, swimming, water and recreation.
Ngā Toi: Group mural.
Tikanga ā-iwi: Water as a source of life.

Ki runga ^

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