Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returned to her roots yesterday with a visit to Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.
Prime Minister Ardern was born in Hamilton and raised in Morrinsville, so the visit was to the museum which houses the cultural heritage of her home region.
In the Waikato to open the Fieldays agriculture festival, Prime Minister Ardern visited the Hamilton City Council facility in her capacity as the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
She was given a tour of Te Whaanau Maarama: The Heavenly Bodies exhibition, which charts the history of Maaori astronomy, from oral story-telling to how Matariki is celebrated in the 21st century.
The tour was led by Associate Professor Tom Roa from The University of Waikato’s Maaori and Indigenous Studies faculty, which partnered with Waikato Museum to curate the exhibition.
Prime Minister Ardern also met with students from Te Kauwhata College, who were visiting Waikato Museum to enhance their studies of the Waikato Wars, as part of their NCEA Level 1 History programme.
“This is my home, this is my tuurangawaewae, so it’s really nice to be back for a few days for Fieldays,” Prime Minister Ardern told the students.
“I love the [Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage] job because when I was your age I was a keen student of history.
“I am lucky I had a history teacher who believed we should learn New Zealand history.
“It’s so much more powerful when we learn our stories by visiting them and learn from those who have ancestors who experienced those moments in our history… I think what you’re doing today is so cool and important.”
Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham agrees with Prime Minister Ardern’s comments that getting out of the classroom is a potent method to engage students.
“Visiting a museum to experience the actual taonga from our history, or going to a paa site where real-life battles took place, are often the most memorable times in a student’s education.
“While nothing can replace classroom learning, places like museums, art galleries, and zoos can certainly complement that teaching.”