NZHS Grant 2020 – Maria Oxnam
Maria Oxnam applied for a grant through the HSNZ Grants Program for a pilot programme to introduce students to the harp in the context of Te Ao Māori health and wellbeing. The programme has been a great success in promoting harp within our Māori and Pasifika communities. Thank you Maria for your mahi, and for preparing this report for us. -Editor.
Khloe Davis – Programme Participant Maria Oxnam – Programme Leader
Te Whare Tapawhā - Māori Health and Wellbeing.
Mason Durie’s model of Te Whare Tapawhā was used in this programme to support Khloe’s learning experience with the harp and to locate her learning within a Te Ao Māori health and wellbeing framework. The framework supports a holistic approach when considering Khloe, her whānau and my role as a kaiārahi (mentor).
Using the ha (breath) and finding ways to settle into the space prior to commencing playing. This may involve karakia timatanga (beginning karakia)
Connecting the sound of the instrument with Māori narratives that are recognised and relatable. For example, The Atua of Te Ao Māori (the Maori world)
Tāwhirimatea – God of the winds
Tane Mahuta – God of Forest / Birdlife
- Developing tikanga to support Khloe to focus.
- To positively reinforce that Khloe is capable of playing this instrument. In doing so, creating a sense of pride.
- Developing the necessary motor skills to play.
- Learning about the harp by teaching Khloe using Te Reo Māori and English
Teaching Khloe how to care for her harp in the home.
Learning harp technique and warm-up exercises to support technique.
Communicating with her whanau to ensure that she was in good health to attend lessons.
Khloe displayed confidence as we progressed in being at the harp. Listening and following instruction. At times this was challenging but Khloe maintained focus in her lesson.
Applying concepts of tikanga Māori when engaging with Khloe’s whānau
This was demonstrated in spending time prior to entering the lesson. Karakia, sharing kai together alongside Hannah and Ella.
Whanaungatanga is a process of reciprocity and being located in community. Khloe was not alone in her learning. She is representative of the mana of her whānau.
As a consequence, whanaungatanga is a way of acting in mana enhancing ways.
Despite adversity, the whanau remained engaged and supportive. As the Kaiarahi (mentor) it was important that I acknowledged this as a means of maintaining the mana of the whānau.
The programme provided a pathway that recognised and unlocked the strength and potential of a Maori student who would otherwise not have access to this instrument. Khloe showed ability to learn and build confidence and capability.
This project commenced with the aim of reducing barriers for tamariki, whānau Māori to have the opportunity to access and learn beginning skills associated with playing the harp. Khloe Davis (10 years old) was invited to participate in the project after having shown an interest in wanting to learn the harp. A conversation was had with her mother in the first instance and then with her parents explaining what I was wanting to offer.
Highlights of student engagement
- Learning in her lesson and in a small group with 2 other children.
- Access to a harp within the home
- Support of whanau to learn
- Weekly lesson not exceeding 30 minutes
- Regular check in with Mum and Dad
- Developing whanaungatanga and acknowledging the continued contribution of the whanau.
Challenges of the project
- Financial hardship that occurred during the harp hire period that required flexibility by the whanau
and mentor to maintain a routine of learning and continued access to a hire harp.
- Supporting and encouraging practice at home.
- Negotiating transport to and from my home.
Khloe had learnt how to care for the instrument in her home.
Khloe learnt a range of warm up exercises and techniques to support playing simple tunes.
Correct hand positions in left and right hands.
Playing the scale in the right hand.
Beginning to develop playing appeggios in the left and right hands
Khloe had played on one occasion to her Mum and siblings the opening bars of Pachelbel’s Canon.
Te Reo Maori was used to teach khloe parts of the instrument in addition to left and right hands.
Tikanga Maori was applied to the learning environment. This involved opening and closing with karakia as a means of preparing to settle into the space.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
Harpist of Maori descent acting as a mentor for a child of Maori descent located in the Victory Community in Whakatu (Nelson) in Te Tau ihu o te waka a Maui (Top of the South Island).
The mentor has undertaken study with intermediate level of skill with various harp teachers since 2014.
The mentor has a range of harps available to provide the opportunity for a child(ren) to learn in Whakatū.
Separate to this project, a one-month pilot programme was undertaken in Oct 2020 to gauge whether tamariki would be interested in learning the harp in a group environment. The was provided voluntarily. Children were invited from the bi-lingual unit at Victory Primary School. This short pilot took place whilst I was working with Khloe. The pilot involved working with up to 12 children, forming two groups of six for a maximum of ½ hour, once a week, for four weeks.
The group pilot supported my individual work with Khloe. It was apparent that Khloe benefited from working a one-on-one setting but with other children, in this case with my children, Hannah and Ella. Hannah and Ella were not apart of the bi-lingual group project as they were more advanced in their learning. Hannah and Ella learnt alongside Khloe as a means of support. All students who had access to the harp were receptive and open to learning in both Te Reo and English.
Accessing ongoing funding to support and build community of Maori / Pasifika harpists in Whakatū.
That there are few harpists of Māori descent who could lead a programme that have access to resources, such as harps for group work.
This programme was limited to one region.
This is an opportunity to build the NZHS community through supporting programmes such as this to build the profile of the harp and make it accessible within indigenous communities.
Part of a future programme could be to Introduce taonga puoro (Māori wind /string instruments) as an accompaniment to the harp. There is a growing body of collaborative work done with taonga puoro that features alongside western instruments. This can create positive associations from a young age for tamariki to see these collaborations occurring within our community as a normal and lived practice.
I believe that with sound planning and access to funding, this programme could be extended to offer group classes in the Whakatū area. A bi-lingual harp programme could feature in the discovery hours within the bi-lingual units within Whakatū and also offered kura kaupapa Māori.
The resulting programme maybe seen as a ‘one size fits all’ and can be applied without proper reference to the author of the programme. This could be developed for application within a bi-lingual setting.
There are few harpists of Māori descent who maybe able to provide mentoring in their area and this may be constrained by lack of resources to support teaching and community building.
The programme undertaken with Khloe was a success. Khloe enjoyed the experience of playing the harp. Khloe did not have any experience of musical instruments in her home. This was the first instrument that was played with regularity. Khloe’s whanau were supportive of her learning and took pride in contributing to her learning. Khloe role modelled to her siblings what was possible. Khloe had expressed her appreciation of the opportunity and knows that she is able to continue to learn should she choose to.