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Te Rito Toi - creative resource developed for teachers returning back to the classroom


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Updated 8 June 2020:

Since Te Rito Toi's launch on April 24 hundreds of New Zealand schools have reopened with a focus on the arts and the health and wellbeing of students and staff. Over 250,000 page views of the online resource and nearly half of all Primary teachers in New Zealand visiting the site has seen a proliferation of the arts in New Zealand schools at a time when they are most needed.  Te Rito Toi is the first significant arts resource for schools in over ten years and the Maori based arts approach are the very first Maori Arts resources for Kura Kaupapa Maori to support the Nga Toi curriculum. The overwhelming uptake in the resource led Perry Rush, President of the NZ Principal's Federation, to call on the Ministry of Education to rebuild the arts in schools. The article attracted both national and international interest and support.

Countries around the world have looked at similar approaches as 1.2 billion children return to schools after lockdowns. Canadian, Hong Kong and Australian educators are looking at using local expertise to build their approaches.  This  global push for a return to classrooms through the arts saw Te Rito Toi highlighted by UNESCO and the World Alliance of Arts Educators in a webinar held on May 20. Watch the webinar here.


Original Article - 24 April 2020:

A project to support primary school teachers with a rich, arts-based set of resources when they return to school next week was developed by a team at the University of Auckland.

Led by Professor Peter O’Connor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, Te Rito Toi provides detailed lesson plans and classroom activities designed specifically for the changed environment teachers and students now face.girl and cloud and crying

“The resources, which can all be found on one website, are based on years of experience by University of Auckland researchers who have worked in schools post-disaster. They are recommending teachers use an arts and wellbeing approach to engage children with the changed classroom environment,” says Professor O’Connor.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says "Educators have a huge role to play in helping tamariki navigate the uncertainty and stress of the Covid-19 crisis over the coming months. These beautiful resources will be really valuable in supporting that work."

“We know these anxious times have had a deep impact on many children, and these quality curriculum resources will provide teachers with the confidence to safely navigate the issues and concerns that will tumble into classrooms next week.”

The lesson plans include a poetry lesson by former Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala-Marsh, a unit on dealing with anxiety supported by the John Kirwan Foundation and Māori arts resources curated by a bicultural team based in Wellington.

The University of Auckland has partnered with UNESCO, the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI) and the Sir John Kirwan Foundation to make sure that as many teachers as possible are aware of the resource, which has gone live Friday, 24 April on



Te Rito Toi - creative resource developed for teachers returning back to the classroom


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