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Celebrating diversity at Bear Park and honouring our bicultural identity & heritage

Celebrating diversity at Bear Park and honouring our bicultural identity & heritage

As a significant part of our Bear Park Identity, we are proud to collectively celebrate Matariki each year with our tamariki, parents, whanau and our wider community.

Bear Park uses rituals and celebrations to mark the passage of time and to acknowledge Matariki (Maori New Year) as part of our unique traditions that are deeply rooted within our New Zealand Culture.

Matariki is directed by the appearance of the Pleiades star cluster or informally known as “The seven sisters”. Traditionally Matariki was celebrated by gathering whanau and reflecting on the past. The festivals connection to the stars provided an opportunity for families to remember their whakapapa (genealogy) and those ancestors that had passed away. Offerings were made by land-based gods, who would help to provide good crops, and new trees were planted as a signal of new beginnings. With new beginnings, came an opportunity for goal settings and aspirations.

At Bear Park, we are proud to keep this traditional celebration alive, in honour of our Bicultural Heritage.  Every year our festivities become richer, as our centres come together in thoughtful celebration.

The harvesting of food grown in our home and centre gardens, is quite often used to make food for a shared meal with our tamariki and whanau. Coming together to share kai that we have prepared supports our strong value of Kotahitanga (unity), and the connections we have with all children, teachers, whanau & community.

We also take the opportunity to then re-sow our gardens with our tamariki to symbolise new beginnings, of the New Year.

Documenting both child, teacher and parent aspirations is also very important to us. This is then displayed to ensure this is re-visited and reflected upon.

A focus on our Maori Culture is imperative, as children learn new waiata, and have more exposure to Te Reo Maori language in the weeks leading up to Matariki. It is also the strong emphasis of our bi-cultural values such as Kaitiaki (tamariki as guardians); Whanaungatanga ((promoting community); Manaakitanga (respectful relationships), that is carefully interwoven throughout our programme at this time.

There is always a huge amount of pride during our Matariki celebrations, as we reflect on the very special Bi-cultural culture that we all share here in New Zealand.