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The whenua we share

We are connected by the land we share around us, the views we see, the noises we hear - this is your community and environment. 

Firstly, the science...

Research shows that if we feel like any kind of ‘outsider’ in our environment, our brain functions in fight, flight or freeze mode (tuning into our amygdala) and we use loads of our mental energy to produce cortisol (a stress response) to monitor threats. This then leaves little opportunity to engage our higher cognitive processing and actively and meaningfully learn.

We now know that academic outcomes correlate with feelings of belonging (Osterman, 2016).

This tells us that whanaungatanga is the best base for learning you can ever create for tamariki, especially if things have been or are tough for them outside of your school environment.

Why this activity?

Well, as you can see the science is clear that whanaungatanga is crucial to our tamariki wellbeing and learning. And, one way to support whanaungatanga is to kōrero and share our in-commons. We share our whenua - our school or community is an in-common, but we might all view it and use it differently. This activity connects, and encourages exploration of the spaces we share around us.

You'll need

  • 3 photos, drawings or paintings from each tamariki of their fave spaces and places in your kura or community

  • Ipads or paper, pens/pencils/crayons 

  • A sunny day!

What to do

Ask tamariki to draw or photograph 3 things in te taiao that are meaningful to them - it might be the grass on the field they love to play on, the tree they climb, the school mara, Ranginui - whatever is meaningful. 


Ask that they upload these to Seesaw, or create an artpiece, the idea is for tamariki to share their photos but more importantly share why these places or things are important for them and why. 

Kōrero and reflect

Once tamariki share, ask others to reflect on:

  • What do they have in common with this person and these places?

  • What do they know now about their peer that they didn’t know before?

  • Why is this important?


Tamariki don’t necessarily need to offer anything from their reflections. Remind them of the places they share and how they’re meaningful to them all. 


Kōrero about the things you notice too, and tautoko tamariki for their important sharing. 

Kaiako card

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

Whānau engagement

Email or add a Facebook or Instagram post to your school or whānau page asking whānau to share with their tamariki their own special places. These ideas might inspire the tamariki!

And to add to this...

If you would like another activity that will get ākonga outside exploring try out our Kaitiaki Champions!

Curriculum links

Health and PE Curriculum 

  • Personal Health and physical development: A4 - Personal identity

  • Relationships with other people: C1, C3 - relationships, interpersonal skills.



  • making meaning of ideas or information they receive (listening, reading, and viewing)

  • creating meaning for themselves or others (speaking, writing, and presenting).

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