Workshop Hikitia — Taku Mahi

 This focuses on the importance of play in children’s development.


Taku mahi

A child’s work is play. They learn through play — by doing, interacting, watching, trying and experiencing a variety of challenges and problem-solving activities. Almost anything and everything can be made into a game or a resource that supports play and exploration.

Tākaro — The importance of play

Play can support all domains of development: social, cognitive, motor and language. It’s important for whānau to know how baby’s brain develops. This helps them to maximise their baby’s learning opportunities for each domain and provide pēpi with appropriate playthings.

Taumauri — Mana aotūroa

The underlying philosophy of this wānanga is based on the ~Ahuru Mōwai principle ‘mana aotūroa’ — children learn through active exploration of their environment.

‘Tuari’ and ‘ako’ are words to learn that embrace the kaupapa of this wānanga.

Whakawhanaungatanga: whakatuwhera, whakatau, mihimihi

Welcome whānau as they arrive, and have drinks, refreshments and comfortable seating arranged for the whānau.

Open with a karakia and a waiata, your own or see the ones provided. Give an overview. Emphasise that this hui will centre on:

  • the value of play
  • brain development
  • music and movement
  • problem solving
  • singing
  • reading
  • emotions
  • feelings
  • sharing.


Begin by placing large pictures on the floor, of random things or activities.

Ask whānau to choose a picture that reminds them of ‘play’ when they were a child. In pairs, ask them to share their story about the picture with each other.

Encourage them by asking:

  • What do you think you learned from the game?
  • What things does your pēpi like to do, or play with?
  • What domain or domains of baby’s development do you think this supports? (For example, social, cognitive, motor and language.)
  • How can you help pēpi to get the most learning from this play?

Talk about how storytelling, reading and singing can be fun, and can help pēpi to learn about their feelings.

Also discuss songs that are soothing and calming (like oriori), or songs that encourage activity and noise (like haka).


Explain this whakataukī and encourage whānau to have a 2-minute discussion about its meaning:

  • ‘Mā te whiritahi ka whakatūtuki ai ngā pūmanawa a tāngata.’
  • ‘Together, weaving the realisation of potential.’


Choose a development domain (social, cognitive, motor or language).

Using natural resources and household recycled materials, make a toy that’s appropriate for pēpi’s age and that supports learning in this domain.


Bring everyone together for closing. Offer an opportunity for whānau to share their homemade toy or their experience of the hui.

Reflect on ‘Taku mahi’.

Close with a karakia and a waiata — your own or one of the ones provided.


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