Why 'Te Kōtare'?

Since late 2014, Te Kōtare (The Kingfisher bird) became a symbol for Jenny of embracing the new and listening to and following her heart. Having read the book ‘Wisdom of the four Winds’ by Barry Brailsford the symbolism behind Kōtare spoke strongly to her.   

Describing ‘The gifts’ of the Kōtare, Brailsford (1999) says “Go into the stillness, the silent place within and listen to the voice of the wise one who waits to guide you.  Decide what is now important in your life. Draw a new map for the journey that unfolds and prepare to walk it”.

For Jenny a big part of this was attending to something that had been important to her for her whole life which was promoting the values of biculturalism.  She soon discovered that the combination of her music talent with her early childhood background was the vehicle to express her convictions.

For those who are open to the mysterious, the sparsely seen Kōtare began to appear regularly to her which urged her on in following her dream.   Interestingly,  Kōtare also appeared to other family members both locally and around the country.  Some of these sightings and encounters were truly out of the ordinary.

About Te Kōtare | Our Plans and Goals

When Jenny was working as a preschool teacher,  she wrote a beautiful waiata (song) in Te Reo Māori for the children to sing as they went on their forest walks.  The kids seemed to enjoy this waiata and would sing it to themselves at preschool, at home and would often request it as a favourite.  

This was the conception of her dream.   

Jenny left her job in mid 2014, and was able to ask herself the question ‘What do I really want to do now?’  Before long, and with the encouragement of a few key people, her goals became clearer.  “I want to have a collection of songs that I’ve written about real places, or things in New Zealand, or based on Māori legends to take into early childhood centres and kindergartens...”
(Jenny, 2014).

She worked diligently on writing waiata, some of which were inspired by our family’s earlier 3 month trip around the Coromandel and Northland in our campervan.  With the help of local musician Matiu Te Huki who assisted with translation and tikanga (Māori customs / worldview), she composed a further 7 waiata and developed ideas / concepts for 2 others.  She took up guitar, songwriting and singing lessons to develop her natural talents.   

“What lies behind my dream is a passion I’ve had since studying a biculturalism paper at University.  It’s a passion for all children in New Zealand to grow up experiencing Māori culture as something they can feel comfortable within, enjoy, participate in, and feel confident operating within.”  (Jenny, 2014)

Her dream was homogeneous with the goals of Te Whāriki (NZ early childhood curriculum) which states “In early childhood education settings, all children should be given the opportunity to develop knowledge and an understanding of the cultural heritages of both partners to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”
(Te Whāriki, 1996).

To compliment this work, she hoped to record her songs and print a songbook with words / translations and which explained the stories behind her songs.

Tragically, Jenny's ill health brought her dream to a sudden halt. Having heard her waiata sung around the house, and seen how much of herself she had poured into them, it was inconceivable to us, for them to remain in her song folder on our coffee table.  These waiata need to get out there, far and wide.  In honour of her, that’s what we intend to do.  

The overall goal is for all Early Childhood Centres and Primary schools across Aotearoa to have the Te Kōtare package as an actively used resource within their learning environment.   This is a ‘not for profit’ venture which is consistent with Jenny's motivations.  

Please give generously through our PledgeMe campaign to help enable this dream to become a reality.

Grant and The Boys, January 2018.