Traditional methods for keeping safe in the water
Learning about the traditional ways Māori used to protect themselves in the water helps tamariki connect with their ancestors and learn about their whakapapa, mātauranga and tikanga. Māori oral narratives described in stories describe customary practices, values and beliefs and can describe how Māori protect themselves in the water.
Karakia, for instance, is an important aspect of water safety which is performed prior to water activity including kai gathering and recreation. Karakia is an incantation or prayer which can be used to bind a person to the water, seeking permission before entering the water and giving thanks.
Meet Hohepa Tawhara, kaiako kōpuapua tuakana at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna, Te Whanganui-o-Tara. Hohepa shares his teaching practices helping his tamariki learn to be safe in, on and around their local waters. Read the Unit Plan learning template here
- about traditional methods and technologies for keeping safe in, on and around the water
- to compare these with modern methods.
Students are able to:
- Read and talk about traditional methods Māori used to help protect themselves in, on and around the water.
- Share knowledge of traditional ways Māori used to help protect themselves in, on and around the water.
Compare these traditional methods with modern day methods and technologies.
Teacher revises, or reads the stories including The Singing Dolphin / Te Aihe i Waiata, and the story of Huria Matenga. Teacher asks students to identify water safety practices and rescue practices and equipment used in the stories.
Teacher then asks students if they know of any traditional ways Māori used to protect themselves in the water (some of which are still used). Examples should include: karakia before sailing, before fishing, before taking kai moana and before long voyages, rahui, taniwha. Māori also used kokowai rubbed onto their bodies for insulation in the water. Hue were used for buoyancy as well as seaweed wrapped around the waist. (See student texts Kahe Te Rauoterangi and Hinepoupou).
At this point of the lesson, the teacher could direct the students to begin a more indepth research of traditional methods of keeping safe in the water. This can be achieved through interviewing kaumatua, exploring this website, library research and online searching.
Students are asked to list all of the modern day technologies and methods used today for protecting ourselves when in the water, e.g. when boating, surfing, fishing, skiing, swimming. Discuss how these are similar or different to traditional methods. How do these compare when we are swimming and doing other recreational activities in different bodies of water i.e. are the technologies and methods for water safety in the sea different to those we use when we do school swimming?
Work Sample – Students are able to list a minimum of three different traditional methods/technologies for keeping safe in the water.
Students can list a minimum of three modern day methods/technologies for keeping safe in the water and draw comparisons with traditional methods/technologies.