Pūrākau can be about superheroes, the weather, natural events, animals, the environment and relationships. They are told through dance (haka), songs (waiata), chants and prayers (karakia) and poems. Due to their oral beginning these pūrākau can differ from iwi (tribe) to iwi.
The junior school at Wairakei Primary decided to explore pūrākau as part of their team wide inquiry, Times Are a Changing, where they were learning about elements of the past. The two classes shared some of their activities.
Room 5 has been exploring the Myth of the Wandering River which traces the old pathway of the Waikato River. The students enjoyed the challenge of retelling the myth using their creativity. They took different parts of the story to dramatise. Individual scripts were written and scenes were videoed. Similarly, the students enjoyed reenacting The Battle of the Mountains. Correct pronunciation of the rivers and mountains was practised throughout the term. This made it easier for students to understand the myths and have the confidence to retell them in their own way. The only trouble was fitting all the key elements into a short scene.
The Māori culture is rich in pūrākau about Aotearoa. Telling these stories creates a sense of belonging and community. They help us explain the past, develop understanding, remember experiences and pass on learning. Most of all they speak to our hearts.