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Modern take on local tales

Students from Matawai School had a multi-dimensional learning experience when they spent the day at Tonui Collab learning about historical stories with a virtual reality twist.

They first visited the Te Maro sculpture at Ruatanuika lookout on Kaiti Hill/Titirangi, and the sculpture at Puhi Kai Iti Cook Landing Site National Historic Reserve. The eight metre-long sculpture at the landing site stands where Maia built his whare wananga, Puhi Kai Iti, the place of learning that Te Maro graduated from.

The students learned more about the ancestor, Maia Poroaki and then donned virtual reality (VR) headsets and had experiences such as riding on a rollercoaster and going on a desert walk.

Another component of the workshop was learning how to operate VR software with the aim of eventually being able to develop their own VR experiences.

The workshop was a collaboration between the Tonui Collab’s Edtech team and representatives from Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa’s Poutama department. They used the innovative space to workshop their Te Whanaketanga o Hineakua project which showcases historical stories based on local ancestors, developed for local children.

Project co-ordinator Te Aroha Paenga said their involvement aimed to create learning opportunities that “honour Turanga identities and heritage and ensure we achieve our aspirations.”

Matawai School principal Glen Knight said such collaborations were essential for a small rural school like Matawai and allowed his students to make the most of outside resources like those provided by Tonui Collab and Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa’s.

The students were to take what they learned at the workshop and expand on it the following week, he said.

It has been six months since The Mind Lab transferred operations to Tonui Collab, to run local STEAM workshops for tamariki in the region.

Tonui director Shanon O’Connor said she was pleased with the collaborations with other organisations and groups across the region.

“This has been achieved by opening the lab doors to design and facilitate aligned learning opportunities for Tairawhiti’s children.”

VIRTUAL WORLD: Matawai School students Ruby-Rhain McIntyre and Emerald McIntyre experience virtual reality using headsets as part of a workshop at Tonui Collab yesterday. Picture by Liam Clayton