A Treaty of Waitangi negotiator has helped change the way kids exercise by creating unique guided heritage trails along Gisborne’s rivers and beaches.
Known as heritage trails, the Turanga Health-inspired guided walks and runs weave Māori and European history into bite-sized chunks for kids while they exercise. The trails have taken one school by storm and are now being adopted by others.
“Our kids are hooked on it,” says Ilminster Intermediate principal Peter Ferris, who incorporates the interactive historical lesson into the school’s new PE curriculum.
“Story telling makes the how, the who, and the when, exciting and relevant to today’s kids. And they are learning it all in fresh air, not off a device or a screen.”
Rongowhakaata historian, and heritage consultant Jody Wyllie created the heritage trails for Turanga Health last year. Mr Wyllie is a Treaty of Waitangi negotiator and Transit of Venus researcher. He says many people don’t know or appreciate the region’s history.
“It’s important our kids learn how we went from there being no one here, to there being many of us here, and also some of what happened in between! You know this place is really important – New Zealand was born here.”
Mr Wyllie created three heritage trail routes: Titirangi (Kaiti Hill), the three rivers, and the beach front. He’s spent hours passing on his years of historical research to six Turanga Health kaiāwhina who lead the guided walks. Stories of the original Māori ancestors Kiwa and Pāoa are combined with the history of meeting houses, Cook’s arrival, and European settlement.
Mr Wyllie say’s the district’s history is challenging for some, and confusing for others. The trail dialogue isn’t intended as a definitive history but many of the local stories are presented warts and all.
“Using the trails, schools can take a more balanced warts and all approach to teaching students about early navigation, colonialism, and the struggles of early settlement. I know not everyone agrees but I would much rather do it that way. Better to have a debate about what happened in the past and to realise that we have moved on as a country.”
The six Turanga Health heritage trail guides are Paora Anderson, Albert Tibble, Shane Luke, Hotorene Brown, Jesse Halbert, and Daiminn Kemp. Excited to be given the chance to exercise and present history at the same time they take their new roles seriously. They’ve learned the content, honed their delivery, and taken practice heritage trails while fellow staff and Mr Wyllie provide feedback.
Guide Albert Tibble says it’s been a privilege and an honour to bring the stories of bygone days to life. But it’s also been a challenge. “Jody has been generous and helpful in his training and feedback. I want to captivate the kids with knowledge, history, and a story and I want it to flow naturally, but at the same time I have to be aware of everyone’s fitness!”
Trails are led according to each group’s fitness. Some are walking trails only, while others include jogging, stair shuttle runs and strength exercises along the way.
Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha says the feedback from Ilminster has encouraged other schools including Gisborne Intermediate and Gisborne Boys High School to use the trails.
“The Heritage Trails are a walking or running series that combines fitness with our local historic treasures. Walkers can cover around two to four kilometers so it’s a unique opportunity for participants to get fit in a beautiful place and connect to history at the same time.”
Email us if you want to receive our media releases.