Saturday, 9 November 2019

A Sneak Peek at New Zealand

We completed a mini project on New Zealand, yesterday. We did this on the back of watching the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup, and while the project was an overview of the country and some of its history, I hope we have been sensitive to the traditions of the Maori in our learning.

When the Maori, indigenous Polynesian people, landed circa 1250AD they named the country Aotearoa, 'Land of the Long White Cloud'.

Abel Tasman, a Dutch Explorer, landed in 1642 and named the country New Zealand, after the Dutch province, Zeeland.

The children looked for other places around the world with the word 'New' in their name, including New Guinea, New York, New South Wales, New Plymouth and New Foundland.



New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth and has a Union Flag and the Southern Cross on its flag.

The Southern Cross belongs to the Crux constellation

Ta Moko is Maori face tattoo, traditionally carved with chisels and the ink is added later. The tattoos connect people to a genealogical family tree and symbolise rank, social status, power and prestige.

Panda Girl drew a traditional design on The Boy's face. 

And he spent a while learning The Haka. He is in his fifth season at his rugby club and he loves The Haka.


We looked at three Maori concepts which they live by and the children both chose Manaakitanga to inspire them: Panda Girl made some heart biscuits for our friend who is worn out with her babies, and The Boy made hearts and left them in our neighbour's porch.


The unfurling fond of the New Zealand fern, Koru is a symbol of peace, growth, new life, strength, enduring power and stubborn resistance. We found unfurling fond art to copy on the net and the children used chalk pastels to complete their work.



The paua shell is often used in the eyes of Mauri carvings. This is our little salt cellar :) We watched a video on polishing paua shells.

Making the Maori gods' family tree.


New Zealand is a volcanic nation, made from volcanoes erupting and sinking over millions of years. We spent a couple of days learning about New Zealand volcano growth, volcanoes themselves and the various igneous rocks that come from them.







Igneous means Fire Rock

The length of the cooling process of lava and its location inside or outside of a volcao alters the type of rock that is formed.

We looked at a cooled lava rock from Vesuvius, the origins of granite, pumice, and diamonds from volcanic kimberlite.


Igneous rock which cooled slowly formed Staffa and Fingal's Cave. Mendlessohn wrote the Hebrides Overture after his sea trip to Staffa so we listened to his music while we worked.

The Giant's Causeway is also a slowly cooled igneous rock formation.

Le Puy in France is a beautiful example of a cooled lava plug which is the hard igneous rock left standing after the rest of the volcano has eroded away.

Granite cooled slowly in the batholith of the volcano, allowing crystals to form.

Pumice cooled quickly and trapped gas bubbles.



Looking up the New Zealand exchange rate and making MacDonald's comparisons with prices.


We watched a couple of great documentaries about the coasts and wildlife of New Zealand, learning about Cooke's uncharted waters, national parks, the native yellow-eyed penguins, dolphins, sperm whales, great white sharks, kiwis and the kakopo.

We talked about the collective nouns of these animals (a waddle of penguins!) and we did a mini study of dolphins.





The kiddies also learnt about the realm of New Zealand, looked at Maori jewellery, and watched Moana to see Maui's hook which he used to 'pull up the North Island'.

We concluded by making a kiwi and honey sorbet, and a New Zealand Louise Cake, rumoured to have been made to commemorate the wedding of Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise.







Yumma!