Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr of Te Toki Voyaging Trust
So the next thing for us is to do what we do quite a lot with our young people. We take them out and show them. We take them somewhere, and then we say, “Look, you go and hold this, you touch this, you do this, and once you do it, you remember.” And so I think that one of the biggest differences for us is that as soon as we can after talking about something, we take them to do it. Whereas often if they were at school, they would have to spend maybe three to four weeks learning about something before they might get a chance to have a little bit of a practical demonstration of something.


Ways of Learning and Remembering

Navigator Jacko Thatcher from Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand : “It wasn’t until I started learning the Maori names for the European stars … and I realised I’ve seen these before somewhere … I [went] through my old songbook from my school days, and there it was …” He had once learned a waiata (song) that named the same stars:

Takinga mai ra ko nga hui a Matariki,
Tuanga, Tautoru, Kangaroa-Atutahi,
mai Karewa, te tini o te whetu ariki.

Here above are the stars of Matariki,
Tuanga, Tautoru, Kangaroa-Atutahi,
and Karewa, the many chiefly stars.

From Bader, H. and McCurdy, P., eds (1999).

Until modern times, knowledge about navigation wasn’t passed on through books … or CD-ROMs! It was passed on by careful watching, listening, repetition, and practice. Ways were developed to make the knowledge easier to remember and to preserve it over time. Everything had to be memorised because nothing was taken to sea – not like western compasses today. The sky and sea were often “mapped” using real objects (for example, stones or sticks to show stars or wave patterns) or mental images. Songs, chants GLOSSARY chants - songs , and stories helped navigators to remember the knowledge.

In Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand , knowledge about the stars was recorded in some tukutuku (weavings), and in Samoa and other islands, it could be shown in tapa cloth (painted bark cloth) or in people’s tattoos – for example, on women’s legs.