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Tikanga guidelines

In the glossary of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum, tikanga is defined as 'custom, rule, way of doing things'.

In Ako: Concepts and Learning in the Māori Tradition (Pere, 1982), tikanga is described as rules, plans, methods, approaches, customs, habits, rights, authority, and control. Tikanga can apply to all aspects of Māori life, and 'rules' therefore are numerous and diverse.

Although aspects of tikanga are common to all Māori, the way in which they are upheld may differ from iwi (tribe) to iwi, hapū (sub-tribe) to hapū, and even whānau (family group) to whānau. Every iwi with its hapū and whānau has a rich heritage with its own set of tikanga.

The notes on tikanga in this resource provide a general guide for teachers, but they cannot encompass the iwi, hapū, or whānau variances that are particular to every region of Aotearoa New Zealand. Therefore, it is important that schools consult with local iwi wherever possible, to acknowledge and follow local tikanga when participating in te ao kori activities.

Tikanga is about logic and common sense. Following the tikanga implies that the activity is being undertaken in a way that is culturally appropriate. This consideration should not be compromised.

Some activities in this resource are designed to give teachers and students the opportunity to explore, understand, and use local tikanga during te ao kori activities. Consultation and involvement of local iwi will also provide security for teachers who might have concerns about lack of knowledge and understanding of tikanga. Fear of making mistakes should not be used as a reason for teachers to avoid including te ao kori activities in their programmes.

By understanding tikanga and its role in te ao kori activities, teachers can incorporate biculturalism into their everyday practice, rather than simply 'teaching' it.