Special artwork of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi created for Kindercare ki Paraparaumu

Tamariki at Kindercare ki Paraparaumu in front of an artwork by Aria Hinewai Ti-Hei Parker of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi's epic swim. Photo / David Haxton

In the Kindercare ki Paraparaumu childcare learning centre is a striking new artwork.

It features a legendary Māori woman who swam from Kāpiti Island to the mainland, with her baby strapped to her back, to raise the alarm after a war party from the south attacked her tribe.

About a year ago, the centre started regular whānau roopu hui where it gathers with its Māori whānau for kai and kōrero about how it can best support them and their tamariki at the centre.

“What came from the first meetings was that local history and stories were really important to them and the passing down of that knowledge not only for their children but all children that are living in this area,” centre supervisor Amy Manderson said.

The centre started a learning journey and set out a challenge for the centre’s children and team members to find out more about the story of Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi and her epic swim.

Centre director Rachel Martin said the centre focussed on Kahe’s attributes such as perseverance, strength and courage and used that within their localised curriculum.

“We told them they could be strong and brave too.”

Some of the children went to nearby Kenakena School and met principal Bruce McDonald who spoke to them about Kahe, gave them books that children at the school had written about her, and showed them a school mural artwork featuring her.

Seeing the mural inspired the centre to have an artwork about Kahe featured at the centre.

Artwork by Aria Hinewai Ti-Hei Parker which features at Kindercare ki Paraparaumu. Photo / David Haxton

The centre sought permission from local iwi Te Atiawa ki Kāpiti, which tabled the request at a monthly hui and was granted.

The centre found a local Māori artist, Aria Hinewai Ti-Hei Parker, who completed a commissioned artwork for them.

A whānau roopu hui was held at the centre especially to unveil the stunning artwork.

“Aria came along with her cousin Rongo Ngata and we unveiled the artwork with whānau,” Manderson said.

“Rongo talked a little bit more about Kahe and he also did a karakia and blessed the artwork for us.”

Martin added: “From Rongo we also learnt it was 200 years ago, this year, that Kahe completed the swim from Kāpiti Island to the mainland with her baby on her back.

“She was also one of five wahine who signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which we think is pretty powerful.”

The centre’s tamariki have written a song about Kahe’s swim and translated their waiata into te reo Māori which they are learning.

- NZ Herald