2 Sep 2014

Skype used to teach Maori symbols

7:04 am on 2 September 2014

A teacher in Australia is using Skype to help her students learn about Maori symbols such as koru and poutama motifs.

Anne Rooney.

Anne Rooney. Photo: SUPPLIED

Anne Rooney teaches English as a second language to year 8, 11 and 12 students at Wilderness School in South Australia, near Adelaide.

Ms Rooney said the idea was inspired by the New Zealand movie Whale Rider as part of her English lesson.

She said the great thing about Skype was that most of her students were familiar with it, it was free and she would be using it for her students to chat to pupils in New Zealand about the importance of Maori symbols and how they were used.

"What's important for Australian students to learn is that by actually talking to the New Zealand students they're going to discover new attitudes and alternative ways of looking at things," she said.

"With the learning unit we're using the movie Whale Rider and this could be a student's first experience of New Zealand and what it looks like.

"So we're learning the geography, about the environment and about Maori culture and the symbols."

Ms Rooney said Skype had revolutionised the way students were learning.

"Previously when we studied Whale Rider and the symbols, the students would just use the internet and they'd do some research and write their essay.

"But by using Skype we're actually getting to talk to students in New Zealand about how Maori symbols are used in contemporary society... you know, do they wear symbols, their relationship with symbols, with their families and the community."

Ms Rooney said the students in New Zealand would be able to share their own personal stories and help the Australian students to build their knowledge on a cultural understanding.