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Ngoi waves (energy waves) 

If you're thinking of a way to set the ngoi or energy just right with your tamariki, here's a great way to do that - thinking about our ngoi as moana waves.

Firstly, the science...

The science behind understanding and acknowledging our ngoi (energy) levels is fascinating. Our bodies have a natural 24-hour cycle called the circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle, body temperature, and hormone production. This cycle is influenced by external factors like sunlight and internal factors like our genetics and lifestyle.

Interestingly, a study of medical residents found that those who matched their work schedule to their circadian rhythm had lower rates of medical errors and were more alert during their shifts (1). Similarly, a study of university students found that those who scheduled their exams during their natural peak performance times scored higher than those who took exams during off-peak times (2).

The first step to managing our ngoi (energy) levels is to understand them. We all have a natural energy rhythm, and it's different for everyone. Some of us love the mornings,, while others of us are ruru. Knowing when our ngoi or energy levels are naturally high or low can help us plan our day and be more productive. Tune into your tamariki as a group and look at the natural rise and fall of their collective ngoi. 

It’s important  to acknowledge this energy and what you’re noticing in order to support tamariki learning and observations of themselves, and especially inside of the wider group. We would definitely recommend brain breaks, which Energy Tūātea is, to support continued learning and especially to reset the energy of the group.

Why this activity?

When we’ve run similar activities, they become classroom favourites and support tamariki to have a clear understanding of where to set their ngoi (energy) for the activity or task ahead. It’s the combination of acknowledging energy levels, tinana awareness and movement and providing guidance on what's expected.

You'll need

Your amazing iti super humans!

What to do

Not compulsory, but still good fun!

The first time through you might want to look at waves and kōrero about the ngoi (energy) behind them. If you’re near a beach, that would be amazing, but you could also look to Surf Life Saving for ideas or bring any of your tamariki whānau or locals who love to surf. 

Of course, our activity isn’t highly technical in terms of waves, but we just want you to know you can extend this mahi and tamariki interests as much as you like! It could even be linked to your localised curriculum with an adventure to a local beach to explore the local area and further understand the concept of waves having consistently changing ngoi or energy.

Getting straight to the activity:

Kōrero with tamariki about our ngoi (energy) as moana waves - our ngoi grows and hits a high point sometimes. You might draw a wave and number it as it grows, the highest point being rima and the lowest, just as bubbles are about to form, is tahi.


Talk about how our energy grows like a wave and you might act this out - 

1 Tahi  - only small amounts of energy and movement, tamariki might be lying or sitting down.

2 Rua - some energy but small, a relaxed state - sitting up.

3 Toru - medium energy, more movement, could be sitting or standing.

4 Whā - more active, more alert, standing with some movement

5 Rima - very active, bouncing and running around!

Ask tamariki to think about the growth of the wave during each of these ngoi levels.


Kōrero about how you will come back to this and set the scene for learning. This might be something your tamariki enjoy every day, especially after kai breaks and in those times you recognise your tamariki ngoi is either peaking too high, or it’s clear they’ve crashed!

Once tamariki have practiced, set the ngoi using the number whenever you need - "we need to be rua together for this next activity."

Kaiako card

To make things easier, refer to or print the kaiako card.

Whānau engagement

It would be cool to video this for whānau and upload onto your online platforms (Seesaw, Class Dogo etc) explaining you’ve been exploring ngoi and matching this to the activity, or others. Here’s some kupu to support this:


We’ve been exploring our ngoi (energy) and how we can adjust our energy for an activity, or even others that we’re around. We did this using the idea of a wave on the sea - our ngoi (energy) builds like a wave, but eventually crashes. We can’t sustain large amounts of energy for long! It might be fun to kōrero about this classroom activity with your tamariki and about ngoi or energy. Here’s some ideas:

  • What level of ngoi (energy) is  needed to play sport on Saturdays, compared to dinner at Grandma’s! 

  • When do we need our most ngoi or energy? 

  • How do we know our ngoi is perfect for the circumstances?​

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum 

  • Personal Health and physical development: A1 - Personal growth and development

  • Personal Health and physical development: A2 - Regular physical activity

  • Personal Health and physical development: A4 - Personal identity

  • Movement concepts and motor skills: B1 - Movement skills

  • Movement concepts and motor skills: B2 - Positive attitudes

  • Relationships with other people: C2 - Identity, sensitivity and respect


And the wave learning:

Health and PE Curriculum  

  • Healthy communities and environments: D2 - Community resources

  • Healthy communities and environments: D3, D4 - Rights, responsibilities and laws; People and the environment


English Curriculum 

  • Ideas: Show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts 

  • Processes and strategies: Select and use sources of information, processes, and strategies with some confidence to identify, form, and express ideas.


Science Curriculum 

  • Nature of Science: Investigating in science - Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.

  • Nature of Science: Communicating in science - Build their language and develop their understanding of the many ways the natural world can be represented.

  • Planet Earth and beyond: Earth systems - Explore and describe natural features and resources.

  • Physical world: Physical inquiry and physics concepts - Explore everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces, electricity and magnetism, light, sound, waves, and heat.


And some whakapapa...

Many years ago, Anna from our team, wrote an activity for Sparklers called Energy Rollercoaster, which she’d adapted from a workshop she’d participated in, by the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), where loads of famous Aussie actors have trained. Anna was particularly interested in that to set the energy levels for any scene, some actors would ask for a number between tahi and rima. Rima was the highest energy level possible and tahi depicts the lowest energy level.

Ngoi Waves is adapted from all of this work.

References from the above 'firstly the sciences section

  1. Landrigan, C. P., Rothschild, J. M., Cronin, J. W., et al. (2004). Effect of reducing interns' work hours on serious medical errors in intensive care units. New England Journal of Medicine, 351(18), 1838–1848.

  2. Duffy, J. F., & Czeisler, C. A. (2002). Age-related change in the relationship between circadian period, circadian phase, and diurnal preference in humans. Neuroscience Letters, 318(3), 117–120.

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