Ngā Kaitautoko: The People

Ngā Mema Māori ki te Poari o MENZA/Tangata Whenua MENZA Board Representatives

Selena Bercic (Te Rarawa)

Selena is a Kaitautoko Matauranga for Far North REAP (rural education activities programme) in Kaitaia. She supports 37 schools and kura in the Far North with professional learning development in all curriculum subjects. Selena also teaches Years 1 to 6 students part time at Te Kura Taumata o Panguru in North Hokianga. Selena has a passion for Music, Te Reo Maori, Matauranga Maori and Environmental Science. Selena plans and organises noho marae and wananga throughout the year as she believes this style of learning encompasses a deeper and more meaningful way to learn. Selena has been in competitive senior Kapa Haka for over 20 years and has taken this knowledge into the classroom and into music classes to help students and other teachers. She is a ukulele enthusiast and composes waiata, for various kaupapa that she is involved in, to enhance the learning at wananga and noho.

Selena is an trustee for her marae and an active member of her iwi Te Rarawa. Selena runs many kaupapa on behalf of her marae and iwi when needed, such as the Te Rarawa CD project and Te Rarawa Noho Taiao. Selena has been involved with MENZA since 2011 and has presented at MENZA music conferences and itinerant teacher music conferences. Presentations she has done for MENZA include: Culturally responsive pedagogy, Maori culture in the classroom, Kapa Haka 101 and Maori Waiata with Ukulele. My dream and goal for Aotearoa is to help teachers and students find their “musical voice” in whatever shape that may be, through singing, composing, and movement.

Christian McDonald (Ngāti Kahu, Te Paatu)

Growing up in the Far North was adventurous to say the least. Memories of my younger days were full of  fishing, hunting, building huts in the native bush, finding swimming spots along the creek, picking pipi with nan and koro, trying to build go karts for a steep gravel driveway, cutting wood, making spears and underwater lights for floundering and so on. I enjoy the outdoors and look forward to engaging with our tamariki outside the classroom.  As for schooling I spent all my time at Kaitaia Abundant Life. The Abundant Life Youth group had a major influence on me as I was growing up, where my father was absent, other male role models took his place.

Family, outdoors activities and building up our young men and women in the community, providing academic and practical pathways will always be my end goal as our students transition from secondary school to life as an adult. I have worked 7 years in the Far North; 5 years teaching music at Whangaroa College and 2 Years teaching music at Taipa Area School – currently I am our creative leader of learning and Pastoral Dean. My main passion is around composition, electronic music and production, as well as my love for taonga puoro and its many faces. With many of my students winning multiple National Awards for their songwriting, performance and composition – I find joy in showing them what is possible. Including their whānau has been important in the process to me, we can not do what we do, without our whānau, school and community.  I am always looking for opportunities for our students here in the Far North and have always been a keen collaborator with other schools, whether it’s performance evenings, talent quests or marking assessments; it’s always a pleasure and I am always learning something new.

From Ngāti Kahu and Te Paatu myself, I acknowledge my tūpuna and those that have help guide me to where I am today. I carry my whānau on my back, and I represent them with all I am.

He waka eke noa tēnei, ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini. Our success is in the collective, we are in this together.