This Tākai Kōrero webinar from 19 October 2022 features Crystal Pekepo, Nikki Penetito-Hemara, Liz Neill and Deb Rewiri. They explore creating tikanga around play, building whānau rituals and why play is important for everyone.
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Tākai Kōrero Webinar: Te ao tākaro – the power of play (transcript)
Kia ora, fakalofa atu, ngā mihi ki te whānau Niue nui. Ata mārie tātou katoa. Ngā mihi i tenei ata, i runga i te āhuatanga o te rangimārie i tēnei wā. Ko wai au? Ko whaea Deb tāku ingoa, ngā Uri o Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Awa te Whānau-a-Apanui. Kia ora koutou anō. The kaupapa today is play. Play is the birthplace of personhood. It is how self is born psychologically, so play contributes to the emotional, physical and social development. However, in the deeper recesses and yearning of tamariki the emergent soul, journey of wairuatanga, imagination, empathy, creativity, the mana āhua aki. So this session will be premised off why play is important, the different types of play. Our kaikōrero will share their experiences and insights of working alongside whānau and rauemi, you can use with the whānau you support. Ngā mihi ātaahua wāhine mā, ki te hāpai hoki te kaupapa i tēnei ata.
I am doing a short intro, but these beautiful women will introduce themselves. Crystal Pekepo is an advocate for te taiao, working alongside community, sharing pūrākau, mātauranga in Māori, embracing and acknowledging te ihi, te wehi, te wana, that they hold. Liz Neil is Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi Play Centre and she’s been involved since 1990. She will talk about child-led play and the importance of unstructured and uninterrupted play. Last is Nikki Penetito-Hemara, a proud resident of South Auckland. She spent years in higher education, however her passion for social innovation, rangahau and systems change and opportunities that initiate and support kaupapa where te ao Māori is flourishing.
We will move to these wāhine now and we will start first with Crystal. After she introduces herself, what I would like you to think about the question is, why play is important not just for tamariki Crystal but for the whole whānau. Kia ora.
Tēnā tātou, faka lofa atu, kia koutou. Ko wai tēnei, ko Crystal Pekepo tēnei, he kāwai whakapapa, he mokopuna tēnei nō Ngāti Whara, nō Ngāti Tāne ki te Moananui-a-Kiwa, nō Ngāti Kahungunu, nō Ngāti Whatuiāiti te hoki tēnei te Kāhū, e mihi ana ki a koutou koutou kua tūhono mai ki tēnei wānanga ō te rā. I guess a quick little bit about myself. I’m a mamma, a mamma of six tamariki and a grandmother of one mokopuna. I work for an organisation called Toi Tangata. My mahi I guess in Toi Tangata is probably mahi Wheke, so kind of everywhere and all over the show; but a lot of our aspirations is how we do mātauranga Māori to hauora, but most importantly, I guess, one of the uniqueness about our whānau at Toi is how we apply that in the home among our own whānau. When we think about play, I guess in terms of the importance of play from a ao Māori perspective, probably really ‘no play’ doesn’t really exist. We usually use the term tākaro, or we try and acknowledge the ancestral gifts that are given to our tamariki through their pūmanawa, and home in on their skills, and enable that kind of play to be unstructured and organic.
I think one of the uniqueness about play for me is how whanaungatanga happens quite naturally with our tamariki. At the marae there will be a lot of tamariki and whanaungatanga isn’t prescribed. They don’t get up and introduce themselves and talk about where they’re from – it really just happens naturally. That’s probably one of the most important unique skills for a child at a young age; is to explore the play in a social setting.
I guess another aspect of play that’s important is feeding the te manawa, their lived experiences, their stored consciousness and feeding that in a way that helps the child develop their own unique creative expression. Sometimes, as tamariki when we grow up, our parents are kind of conditioned to bring us up in a certain way, and that’s how we have been as parents as well. We go to all these antenatal classes and stuff, but no-one actually talks to us about the importance of play, or tamariki development and how we can be unique as parents in raising our children in play. Koirā noaiho.
Kia ora Crystal. Kia ora Liz. Can you introduce yourself now? Again, the same question: the importance of play.
Kia ora. Tēnā koutou katoa. Ngā mihi ki a koutou mō tēnei i tēnei rā. Ko wai au, nō Ingarangi ōku tūpuna, nō Ingarangi ōku mātua hoki. E whānau mai ahau ki Tāmaki Makaurau, e noho ana ahau ki te Awakairangi ināianei. Tokowhā aku tamariki, ko Liz Neill tōku ingoa. He whakaako whānake ahau, ki te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi, Play Centre Aotearoa. As Deb said, I have been involved with Play Centre Aotearoa since 1990, since my oldest was a baby, and on the professional development team for a dozen or so years now. Very passionate about play. I love what play brings to families, what it brings to tamariki and what it brings to us as adults as well.
To your question Deb, I think some of the most important things for play being more than just our tamariki, but for our adults and whānau as well, is to have fun and to relax; and as Crystal said, to really get to know each other in different ways. We understand each other in different ways when we play together, as opposed to when we are working alongside each other. But also, it's an opportunity to practice safety with each other and consent. There’s an opportunity to share stories, share our history and to have shared experiences that we build on over time. We laugh together, we build trust and we get silly together. It's a wonderful opportunity for us as families. And, to remind our children that we were tamariki too, and all these things that they’re exploring we’ve had those opportunities ourselves when we were little.
I look forward to playing barefoot in the rain some more with the tamariki. Kia ora kōtou.
Kia ora. Thank you for that. Kia ora Nikki.
Kia ora. Kia ora whānau. Tēnā koe me te whakatūwhera i tō tātou nei hui, whaea Deb, tēnā tātou katoa. Ko wai au, ko Nikki Penetito-Hemara tōku ingoa, he uri ahau nō Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Kahungunu, te Whakatōhea me Ngāti Porou. E noho ahau kei Tāmaki Makaurau, ki te tonga. E mahi ana ahau hei mātanga Māori tākaro ki Ihi Aotearoa, Sport New Zealand. Engari, ko tōku turanga matua, he māmā, he māmā, ahau ki āku tamariki e whā. Kia ora whānau. Just a little bit about me. Definitely a proud South Aucklander, as Deb mentioned in the intro, and just a choice opportunity to be here having a kōrero about tākaro with you today. My mahi is with Sport New Zealand ihi o Aotearoa. Play is still the new kid on the block in that space if I’m honest. Sport and rec has sort of taken over for a large majority of the past for us, and play has been taken for granted. Mainly, my job is in and around reclaiming, restoring, revitalising some of our mātauranga that sits around tākaro and bringing that to the forefront.
In terms of your pātai whaea Deb, why is play important: firstly I think that the power of intergenerational play is underestimated. I truly believe that when it comes to play the mana lies with the tamaiti; that is their mahi and through play they get to understand, to describe and to find their world. I love it how they get opportunities to learn social skills and be resilient and understand how they connect to taiao through whakapapa as well. I really believe tākaro is pretty magic in that sense. But, as a parent, I guess our job is also just to role model for them and I think offering them the freedom to be imaginative and run wild with some of their learning experiences when it comes to play is awesome. Getting out of the way helps, I guess, for parents; but also, when you are invited to play alongside your tamariki that’s even more magic too. I’m sure whaea Deb you will talk to us about some of the brain science to back up some of those neural pathways and what gets lit up in their beautiful brains in those times and in those experiences.
Then lastly, just in terms of our grandparents, if I think about the nannies and koros in my whānau, they’re probably the most playful people. They light up when their mokopuna are around. I would argue that they have a little bit more of the luxury of time. Just recently we had an opportunity with our nephew. He was bringing his Beyblade. It was a cool transition of mātauranga between him and koro Wally who had a similar experience with pōtaka, with wooden spinning tops. He used harakeke to sort of whip it, and they were like, “Koro, that’s what a Beyblade is but it's plastic.”
I think all that learning is gold, is magic, and therein lies the beauty of tākaro.
Thank you. I’m going to pick up one thing that you talked about Nikki. I guess because sports is such a huge activity within the context of play, and thinking about how early we get children into competitive play – we get them into sports groups really early. I didn’t realise until I travelled down to connect with my mokopuna that they have baby league players now, and I’m like, “What!”
What I want to pick up on, in terms of structured play and free play, is how do you see sports integrating play in a way that it becomes more meaningful for tamariki. I’m going to open this question to each and every one of you, because all of you talked about it gives us a sense of connectedness to te taiao, how it gives us an opportunity to be more creative and more imaginative, and that connects us across the intergenerational context.
If we think about play in the broader context, what are some of the barriers to play? I’ll just say: what are some of the barriers to play?
I think he pātai pai, within a child’s mind, in the government space we divide things up between play, active recreation, sport, then there’s unstructured. There’s all these titles and categories. I think we almost suck the play out of the kaupapa at that point. The way I like to think about tākaro in the context of all of those things is, if we think about our waka ama regatta we’ve got the competitive stuff that’s happening on the way; we’ve got the ‘have a go’ stuff that’s happening, perhaps with our kuia and kaumātua, they’re jumping on-board the waka and giving it a go. Everything else at that kaupapa that’s happening is tākaro for our babies. They might be playing in the water, or they might be playing tiggy. I think we just need to lean into where they’re at, instead of, I guess, try to over-complicate the things.
The mahi, in terms of the rangahau that I’ve done, there was a real dislike, in particular from Māori in trying to categorise play up into all of these different things, and just to let it sort of happen organically. Then if it happened in a competitive space too, acknowledge that there’s a place and space for that. In particular, role modelling between our parents who might be playing a netball game at the Pā Wars and our babies are seeing that and really wanting to be that.
Kia ora Nikki. Liz, would you like to answer that question and then I’ll ask Crystal.
One of the biggest barriers for unstructured play for our tamariki is us. We get in the way. Our own agendas, our own timetables, the busyness of our lives and the things that we need to fit in definitely are barriers that can get in the way. Some of the things that we can do to assist that is just to allow time; to plan time into our day that is empty and unstructured for our tamariki to just explore and be wherever they are.
But, also we interrupt. As adults we often interrupt our children to come to kai, to get changed, to change a nappy, or whatever other things are going on. If as adults we can just pause for a moment when we get to our tamariki and observe what’s going on for them, and if they are busily engaged in some kind of exploration and play, to just allow the pause moment to come. Because if we observe our tamariki, there’s always a moment where they will notice us. They will stop what they’re doing and they will make eye contact with us, or something like that. That’s the time for us to then go in with those next things that we need to do.
Sometimes I think safety can come into it as well. I think of our pēpe out in the taiao, and they're picking up leaves, bugs or little things and popping them in their mouths. That can be a bit of a barrier from the adult perspective as well, and how do we keep our little ones safe in these different environments and the things that they have to explore and play with, in terms of being unstructured.
I think from my perspective, just making sure that us as adults are aware of our role in interrupting our tamariki play.
Kia ora. Thank you. Crystal?
Pātai pai. I guess in a sports context, for myself and my husband we were really sporty. When we started having children it was so exciting because we wanted to breed all these little league players. One of the six of our tamariki actually took a liking to sport. I think the beauty about sport is that again it's a beautiful opportunity for whanaungatanga to happen naturally, within the team, within the rōpū.
One of the barriers I guess, from a young age with tamariki, is communication from the adult to the tamaiti. We can often find that with our tamariki from a young age they haven’t really learnt to regulate themselves accordingly; and so that competitive nature kind of comes out and they don’t know how to regulate themselves.
That was an experience that we had with one of young fellas, who kind of didn’t really understand to just play a sport for the enjoyment of it, and then understanding that actually it's okay to lose, it's okay if you don’t make that tackle.
That’s probably a positive and a barrier in terms of a sports concept.
When we think about the unstructured play, or play in the whānau, for a lot of our whānau they just feel there’s a time and place to play. Play is actually really misunderstood. I think a lot of us, we’re conditioned in terms of our own fears and we project that onto our own tamariki. It's like, “Don’t go over there, you might fall.” We kind of don’t really let that ihi/wehi/wana take place naturally for them to really explore themselves.
I think one of the biggest barriers is probably just us as parents being okay to let things happen naturally, and being okay to support our tamariki in finding their own creative expression naturally. There’s a kōrero in te ao Māori – he atua, he tangata. From that very young age, it's just letting that atua explore; letting them engage with all the different atua attributes that they have within them, and just letting that happen, just so naturally.
Kia ora Crystal. Thank you all of you. For me, what I’m hearing you all say, is that the opportunity to actually allow children to be lost in play, that we don’t need to actually figure it out for them, that we don’t need to actually even comment on what they’re doing, we can just actually watch them and know that in terms of safety parameters, there’s something around having safety, but whose safety are we more concerned about? Is it from our adult perspective, or rather than watching how the child moves? I often say to people that a lot of the yoga poses are actually child poses, because they know how to move in their body naturally. So, stopping that process from its natural evolvement is something that again comes back to us and our own understanding of what play actually means. I’m enjoying this kōrero.
Can I just add in there Deb, that one of the other things that came up for us is how in terms of maybe parents misunderstanding play, or getting in the way of play is, sometimes they play the role of weaponising play; so if you do this, or if you do your mahi, or if your do your mahi kāinga then I’ll let you go outside and play. Then I guess what happens for kids is that they learn then how to trick or manipulate (which isn’t a bad thing) but anyway, manipulate so that they go out and play.
I think parents need to understand that they are normalising that type of reaction when they use those kupu, and that our role as adults is to enable the opportunities for them to get lost in play, and just be mindful that if we use those kupu then we are programming our tamariki to think a certain way about play.
Also, I think it also brings in that whole context of doing and being. Doing is something that’s practically applied and you develop a skill through it, of course, but being is actually really being okay with boredom too. Quite often we want children to do things, so that we know they’re not bored. I’m picking up what you said Nikki around weaponising. I quite often see it in terms of electronic stuff, and “If you don’t do a, b and c, I’m going to take your phone off you, or I’m going to take your iPad, you can’t go on your iPad.” Whilst we’re talking about the benefit of getting out into te taiao, often the weaponising is actually used not so much around play but it's around the everyday things that they have around them. I’m not saying we can throw the phones away, but I often say to parents, “What are they not doing if they’re spending a lot of time in front of iPhones and iPads.” I just get them to start thinking about that. I certainly pick up on your question around weaponising play, because I see it more broadly in the context of electronic play, rather than outside. Thank you.
I really do want to pick up on this, I’m drilling down a little bit more into the different types of play and how play supports learning. Of course I’m going to get each of you to answer this from your own perspective too, but Crystal I want to start with you in terms of te taiao. I know that you’re using ngā atua as a platform to allow our tamariki and our whānau to see the benefits of a te ao Māori world around play. Kia ora.
Yeah, I guess for us as a whānau we spend a lot of time in the taiao. The taiao is probably one of the best teachers for our tamariki. It does a better job than us anyway as parents. Engaging our tamariki in the taiao is not necessarily just about play: it's really about how they actually build a good relationship with taiao – understanding the importance of the role we play as teina; the role that different species play in the taiao in order for it to be healthy. So we spend a lot of time in the taiao. We spend a lot of time sharing different kōrero around different atua.
For us, it just helps the mātauranga naturally within our tamariki. We have different times at home. I’ve got all these taonga. We’ve just come back from up north. We were up there for a Kai Māori wānanga in Waikara. Even just observing our babies then, like just the different sand and the different colours of the sand, and just the excitement that they saw with all the kōhatu. And, this is all the little kōhatu and shells and stuff that they gathered.
I think the importance, when we think about taiao and we think about our role as parents, like we always want to get our kids the best toy and the latest toy that’s out there. It's something that I actually learnt from one of my good friend’s and sister, who is amazing when it comes to play, and her name is Rani Hutana. Play is in the child. If we were to buy a toy from the shop it's already got a predetermined outcome of what that toy is. When I think about the shells, when I think about the kōhatu, it's a pizza, it's a makeup, it's a lipstick for my girls. The imagination that happens naturally in the taiao is just so special. That again comes back to the communication in terms of how we communicate to our tamariki about what they’re experiencing with particular taonga out in the taiao.
There was a particular kaupapa that we ran last year called Mokopuna korikori and through the different wānanga that we had with whānau, they had decided as a collective to kind of re-indigenise their own homes and replace all the toys with taonga from the taiao, and remove the idea of buying presents during Christmas, and looking at how we build experiences for our tamariki. The experiences don’t necessarily have to be out in the taiao, but those are probably the most unique gifts that you can give your tamariki mokopuna.
Kia ora. There’s a question I would like to ask you, Nikki. Is all play physical? It's a question that’s just come up on the Q&A.
Absolutely not. If there’s physical movement involved… like this isn’t overly physically intense, and so probably sits more in the mahi a rēhia space, more for entertainment purposes. I love this, our mahi whai, because not only is it a piece of string, like Crystal said it could be all sorts of things, it's a taura piu, it's a whip, all sorts of different things. I love the fact that what sits behind this isn’t just a cup of tea and saucer, or the parachute, or the Eiffel Tower, but when we start to dig and look into some our pūrākau, associated with it. We’ve got a friend, Crystal and I, and his name is Dr Hauiti Hākopa, who knows over 500-odd figures that hold our whakapapa, and that hold our pūrākau, and that hold our history.
So, no, it doesn’t have to be. But, then I will just show you… so the other day I did a workshop and I got a retired belay rope that looks like this.
Yeah, to belay up and down the wall.
So, we had a jam at mahi whai using that the other day and that is physically intense. So, it can be and it doesn’t have to be.
Kia ora Nikki. Liz, I wanted to talk to you about technology. We know it's with us to stay. How do we think about play in the broader context of technology, space and age, and where our babies are currently domiciled in this whole big conversation around technology and how it interrupts play?
I’m not sure I’m the best person for that kōrero. Technology is not something that my babies and young children had. My children were involved with play centre and then through the Steiner School. We had a bit of a different perspective there on technology. But, all of them have a hundred percent grown into the ability to use it and to know what’s there.
A lot of tamariki these days are what they call ‘digital natives’ and that they really have an affinity and ability with technology that comes from that ability to play, explore and work out different things with it. They don’t have a fear around it like I do.
Can I just go back to something that you said before whaea Deb, about the difference between doing and being? I was thinking about that in terms of the structured versus unstructured play, and what some of those play things look like. So, for example, some of the things that I would consider to be structured play, and still full of amazing learning for our tamariki, but in that more structured perspective are things like puzzles, board games and classes like swimming lessons; and as you say, the introduction to sports and things like that. Some of even our storytelling and bits and pieces can be quite structured in how we are offering it to our tamariki, but also the outcomes that are expected from that, in terms of puzzles and board games. There’s rules, there’s a correct way for a puzzle to be completed – those sorts of things.
So, those are about the doing, they are about learning skills, and there’s heaps of learning in there around sequencing, rules, turn taking and problem solving and all those kinds of things.
Then when we head into the being and we get into the imaginative play, the really unstructured play, the resources change for a start, as everybody has already mentioned. That’s when we get out boxes, sticks and all those taonga of taiao that Crystal was showing us. Some of my favourite (I’ve got a little collection here too) are the pinecones and just the difference between the tiny new completely closed and the bigger older very open; and just the amazing things that our tamariki will do with these sorts of resources.
Some of my favourites also are the good old tin cans. These are amazing. They stack, they nest, they make great sounds, they’re great for little hands to hold because of the ridged edges. There is so many things we can do with bits and pieces that are just around us in our environment. We all know how much our babies love to play in the kitchen with the pots and pans, and spoons and bits and pieces. And, to be near us is a big part of that as well, isn’t it, for them to have that unstructured stuff.
They’re learning so much around how their bodies move. I think one of the things for us to really mention is that the beginning of play is not toy focused at all. Crystal mentioned this as well when she said “The play is within the child.” When we think about an infant, our tiny new babies, their first toys are their hands and then their feet. So, parts of their own bodies; hair of their parents; all those sorts of things are those first toys and those first connections that our children are playing with. There is so much for our tamariki to learn just within and of themselves and the things directly in our environment.
Kia ora, I agree with that. For me it's like how do you continue to allow that opportunity for them to grow in their own understanding of who they are, in terms of their environment? And, how do we as mātua, as grandparents, as whānau, support that whole process of them learning through play.
It seems an odd idea, and I’m hearing you talk about it all of you, is that we’re naming the subject as play when it's actually a natural ability of our children, if we just allow them to explore naturally. I remember the first time I took my moko for a walk in the pram. I just put her onto some stones. I think she was about seven months old – one of the walks we went on; and she was picking up the stones and mouthing them. I could just imagine her father standing by me, my son, saying, “Mum, why are you letting her eat that?” and just watching her whole… she was mesmerised by that. It's sort of like we forget to actually observe in a way where we see that they’re gaining pleasure from it.
Absolutely. Our babies are mesmerised by the wind, by the water, by the changing sun, by the way that reflections change off the things that they’re playing with. Absolutely.
What I would like to ask you now is, how do you support, each of you in your own way in what you’re doing, whānau to play? Like, to get off the couches, to get away from the screens. How do you do that in a way that brings in both responsive and respectful relationships with them? So, you’re not saying, “You need to be doing this.” It’s really about encouraging them in a way whereby you’re asking questions or stimulating something from within them, so that they’re the expert in their child. I think it's always right and proper to understand they’re the expert – not you, and not any of us. So, how do you encourage in a way that is more responsive rather than reactive? When someone is saying to you, like if you walk into a whānau and there’s no books, or there’s nothing around storytelling and everyone is sitting in front of a screen. How do you encourage play in those contexts? Kia ora. Who would like to go first? Nikki.
The one thing that comes to mind is, like our old people used to do, we love to just observe where the different mōmō and the different characteristics and traits that our tamariki show us. One of the favourite things that we love to do, we’ve only recently coined ‘pepehā play’, where we actually place our feet in, on or through our significant spaces and places that we whakapapa to. One of the recent examples was when… all our kids have a whakapapa name to one of our whakapapa lines. Piata, we were walking up Mauao and she was just hilarious. The girl was skipping up, she was stopping to smell all the different rākau, picked things up and talked to the sheep as she was coming back down. All the rest of us were huffing and puffing. We had Kimiora who is probably our more sporty girl in the whānau, and she was huffing and puffing and not enjoying it. I think when we got to the top it was a cool opportunity just to unpack with Piata, just why that was the case. “Well, you hold our ingoa to Ngāti Ranginui Piata, so there’s no surprises that this was a breeze for you.”
She’s in an environment where play is obviously encouraged?
What I’m asking is, how do you encourage whānau who are not, who are in with devices? I know that for a lot of whānau, kaimahi who are working with whānau, they’re working in the digital space and how do they encourage. How do you encourage?
I think one of the first things is we have to make sure that we are relevant to our kids and can’t always glorify the ‘no technology’. I think that’s a really important point. Our kids in particular love TikTok, love drones, and all the concepts that sit around technology. So, I don’t think it's ‘strip’ and a ‘no’ ban. I think there’s opportunities to really consider balance in that conversation. But, it does require us to be on our game, we can’t just let it be the babysitter.
I think balance is probably one of the go-tos for me, if technology is the thing that is getting in the way.
Kia ora. Thank you Nikki. Crystal?
To answer that pātai there really needs to be a lot more awareness brought forward in terms of whānau understanding tamariki development. It's not something as simple as going into a home and saying, “Sis, you need to get your kids out in the taiao a bit more.” It's actually having that knowledge base and being able to have that wānanga with them around the importance of the development.
In our mokopuna korikori kaupapa we did three wānanga with whānau – whānau with tamariki. The kaupapa was actually around self-regulation and how do we use a whakapapa based approach in pūrākau to build self-regulation in the tamariki or the tamaiti mokopuna?
One of the stories we used was Papa Mark and Whaea Di pūrākau noho tatapū [40.41]. The noho tatapū speaks of before the separation of Rangi and Papa and all the momo atua that had the kōrero around wanting to find a way forward, and we use that kōrero as a way to explain brain development through the reptilian, mammalian and neo cortex. The reptilian being the atua within that confinement and crawling around in the darkness, which is kind of like the development of a baby before finding itself in its movement. Then we kind of looked at the mammalian around the nurturing side of the brain. Then we used the neo cortex as the hinātori the circle of light that the atua had seen.
But, in terms of explaining that story within a brain development kaupapa, it was also a way of whānau identifying which atua do you think that resonates with you, or what type of characteristics does each atua pertain to you? The majority of our whānau saw themselves as whero, the one that restricted their tamaiti’s play, the one that restricted their tamaiti of attaining that hinātori.
So, I guess when it's not as simple…
It seems to me that you’ve got them to identify within the pūrākau what it is that they’re doing to restrict. That’s respectful and responsive, but you’re creating that context where they can recognise themselves. That’s such a beautiful and traditional way of encouraging them, and them beginning to recognise how they can either compliment what their child wants or needs to explore in the te taiao, or restricts them.
I think it's the most safest way of how we use pūrākau, for whānau to kind of identify themselves and not be so whakamā. It removes that idea of whakamā, because he atua he tangata. We all have different attributes of atua within us.
I guess, going back to the pātai in terms of how do you enable whānau to enable play to happen naturally, or to put down their devices, it's not as simple as just saying, “Sis, you’ve got to put that down and go and do this.” It's actually being able to have the wānanga with the whānau for them to understand that there is more potential within their whānau context than just the technology, or just sitting down watching their kids doing something.
In terms of the technology side of things Whaea Deb, I’m going to put it out there, I’m only human: there are times when I’m just like, “Here. I won’t be long. Mum’s just going to have a hui.” I’ll admit that. But, I guess when we think about technology and when we think about play, I guess it's getting the tikanga around what our tamariki are engaging with on technology. A lot of the times our tamariki are kapa haka and waiata. That’s pretty much the jams at the moment for technology. And, I think kapa haka is a really beautiful way of play to happen naturally.
I think we probably might be in there for Matatini one day. But, the baby’s just naturally… like, I’ll be doing the dishes and then they’re like, “Mum, waiata.” Ki raro! Waiata is also another way of knowledge transmission, and it is also a way of play and moving the body; using your āringa, pūkana, expression. I think when we think about technology, we’re only human. There are times where we are going to let our children play on technology.
Kia ora for that. I think it's as Nikki said: there’s a balance between both/and. We’re none of us purest and none of us perfect. There are no perfect parents. The choices we make is around how do we introduce to whānau an aspect of play if we know in our heart of hearts that there is no play, or interactive play, happening within the whānau? Kia ora Crystal. I do say to my nieces, “Put the phone down,” dah-dah-dah, but I have the right to say that as a Nanny. Or, I’ll say, “Bub, put the phone down.” She just wants to look at you, because you’re the most important thing that she wants to see. So, however we do it I think is the value of the relationship that we have. Not a put-down but a raising up of consciousness, around conscious parenting.
I am coming to Liz, because I think we are just about ready to wrap-up.
Kia ora. I was just thinking in terms of how we set ourselves up for success. We start small. It's a bowl of water outside on the deck. It's a little one alongside us at the bench while we are prepping dinner or something, that they’ve got kai to cut and prep and be there with us. But, also if we’re out and about, have a spare change of clothes in the car, so that if you are on the way home from somewhere and have a half hour to spare before you need to be home, that you can stop at the beach and people can get wet and they can get sandy, and it doesn’t matter because you’ve got a change of clothes and a couple of towels in the car. So, setting ourselves up for success and thinking about those different moments in the day - what do we do after school? Rather than coming home and getting struck straight into the mahi, perhaps there’s a half hour or 45 minutes that we can stop off at the river, or stop off at the beach, or the park at the end of the road, or whatever; so that we have those opportunities and fit those into our busy days as well.
Kia ora, thank you Liz.
Obviously we’ve trawled a lot through this process of play, and it's been great because you’ve all been introducing rauemi in a way that whānau workers or people working with whānau can actually encourage whānau to use. I always laugh about the present, because the most interesting thing that a child gets is the box it comes in. When I watch tamariki play, it doesn’t matter how small or how big the box is, that’s the most interesting toy they get; is when they see that box. I know we call it open-ended play, and the different things we can do with the box, but it just shows you how enamoured we are with things, rather than getting out into the natural world and just thinking about how we can encourage play through the natural world.
Can I just make a comment? I just saw something pop up through the chat, in terms of ‘time is a privilege’ and I one hundred percent agree with that, that time is a privilege these days; but another perspective on that is, there are still the same number of hours in every day that there always have been. Our tamariki are still needing ways to fill that time and they need opportunities for unstructured play within that. That can be anywhere. If the whole whānau isn’t available to go somewhere, like I said stop at the beach or whatever, we make those things happen in our home; whether that’s outside the back door, whether that’s on the floor, on the deck with whatever is going on. That even at home when adults are busy, that our tamariki have opportunity for free unstructured moments to just explore without interruption. Kia ora.
Kia ora. Thank you. Some of the questions on the Q&A I think we have answered already. There’s one here that says: “How can we stimulate teenagers?” Anyone got a great answer for that?
Really simply you’ve got to be relevant and use your wit as well, as a parent. I have grandparents who used to tell us to go and gather water or something, and actually they’d already picked holes in the bottom of the can, so I was watering the garden on the way back as well. There’s little things. You have to use to your wit with our teenagers I feel. I have to be on my game with my teenager. But, also be relevant.
Yeah, be relevant. Ka pai.
That’s a really good pātai, because the conversations that we’ve been having is really around the tamariki, but they actually grow and they grow into themselves. With our teenager, like Nikki said, being relevant, but it's also taking the first step to get to know your teenager and what they enjoy doing. At the moment, one of our boys, he’s fourteen, and there’s this game that’s going out and it's kind of like shadow-boxing. You kind of just rock off and then you’ve got to go opposite. I’ve never had so much laughs. It's actually just taking the time out, and “Bro, what do you enjoy doing?” He loves the shadow-boxing. So, we’re random as. He will be like, “Mum,” and we’re like right in the middle of the street, doing this shadow-boxing and having some good laughs.
Also, it's kind of looking at things, like a lot of our kids are into gaming. There’s a particular game that our boy likes and we managed to have a good conversation about this particular game, and then looking at how we can use our Māori narratives to create a game, and really giving our kids the opportunity to have experiences of building, creating and using their hands.
When we spoke about this particular game, his vision was looking at creating a different pā - we’ll put in these particular rākau, a kauri. It was just letting that conversation flow. Sometimes when they come up with all these cool things, don’t be shy to give yourself a little pat on the back.
I think it's you, you’re making it relative again. First and foremost I want to talk about the awesome resources that we have for whānau – people who are listening in. In terms of Whakatipu te Māhuri, has some great pages on play and what that might look like for whānau and the benefits. You can order that from tākai.nz. The Ministry of Education has a great resource on ECE play ideas, including how to do it and what learning is happening. And, Sport NZ has E-learning you can do for free on how to support play. Play Aotearoa also has some great resources you can share this week. It's about learning kupu from Niue about play. The links for those are in the chat.
I want to thank you all. I want to thank you, the amazing and wonderful kaikōrero, for all that you have contributed to the day and this time of learning. You all mentioned the neuro science. Play encourages this emotional regulation. We also know in terms of mental health and wellbeing, being out in te taiao actually has a way of drawing down serotonin, which is one of our relaxant and happy hormones. Endorphins are activated through play and happiness.
So, for me, in terms of the context, the broader context, I want to leave you all with this whakataukī that I learnt when I was working with whānau. It is, ‘Create moments, make memories and shape destinies.’ It's all premised off the purpose of play. Remember play is the birthplace of personhood and our soul journey, our wairua tānga, is uplifted in a way that we can’t even possibly imagine. But, creativity is actually what we need to embrace and enhance in our babies, in our tamariki, in our mokopuna, as they journey forward. We don’t need to keep reinventing the world in terms of keep sharing what we already know. We need them to be critical thinkers of the future and to innovate. To be these creative thinkers we need to allow them to play.
Kia ora tātou. Thank you again. Ngā mihi ki a koutou wāhine mā, for your awesome kōrero into this space. We’re going to be back in November for a ruku workshop on play. It's limited to a hundred people I’m reading here – link in the chat. If you want to get on-board with that then sign up.
There will also be an optional survey that will pop up on close of this webinar. Let us know what your thoughts are about this session.
Ngā mihi nunui. Kia ora koutou katoa. Ngā mihi.
Crystal Pekepo, Toi Tangata
Crystal works in innovation design and research for Toi Tangata, is a wife, māmā to 6 tamariki and nanny to 1 mokopuna. Crystal has participated in a number of research projects sharing kaupapa Māori approaches and methodologies to co-design and social design. Crystal works across multiple spaces from Māori public health and the social sector and advocates in natural environmental spaces. Her superpower is working alongside communities sharing pūrākau and mātauranga Māori, unleashing their potential in the most caring and resourceful ways that unlocks ihi, wehi and wana.
Nikki Penetito-Hemara, Sport New Zealand - Ihi Aotearoa
Born and raised in the vibrant metropolis of Manurewa, Nikki is a proud South Aucklander. She has dedicated much of her professional career to leading multidisciplinary teams of people in health and education. After spending almost a decade in the higher education space she found a particular passion for social innovation, rangahau (research) and systems change. She believes this provides an ideal mix for unlocking the inner creative. She enjoys zoning in on opportunities to both initiate and support kaupapa which contribute to positive impact for Māori.
Liz Neill, Playcentre Aotearoa
Liz has been part of Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa – Playcentre Aotearoa since 1990, when her first child was an infant. Liz has been a facilitator with the Playcentre professional learning and development team since 2010, working with Playcentre families across Aotearoa. Her passion is child-led play, both indoors and outdoors, and sharing with whānau and kaiako the importance of unstructured and uninterrupted play opportunities for tamariki as they learn and grow.
Helpful resources for whānau
Baby wall frieze
Use this wall frieze in te reo Māori and English to decorate baby's bedroom, or any space. It has easy ideas on how we can all help pēpi grow an awesome brain.
Samoan and Cook Islands Māori baby wall frieze
Use this wall frieze in Samoan and Cook Islands Māori to decorate baby's bedroom, or any space. It has easy ideas on how we can all help pēpi grow an awesome brain.