Pēpi says

I’m nearly three years old and I can say about 1,000 words now, probably more!  And some days I’ve got 1,000 questions too.

I like drawing pictures and I can hold a pencil like my tuakana. I can build tall towers too, because my hands are very steady.

I like puzzles and matching games. I play cards and board games with my whānau.  I love throwing the dice and I try to count the dots.  Sometimes I like making up new rules too and that’s okay because it’s just a game.

I like helping my whānau and I have my own job too. Pāpā rinses out the milk bottles and I squash them and put them in the recycling bin. I know the number 1 and number 2! Koro says I’m a little ‘greenie’.

I won’t have to wear my ‘pull ups’ for much longer, yeh! I'm learning to go to the wharepaku by myself, just sometimes I need a little reminder if I’m busy

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Whānau say

Language learning is easier when you’re young. Supporting pēpi to be bi-lingual is simple – kōrero, kōrero, kōrero!  We use talking games and waiata and make it fun.  If they get mixed up, we don’t say ‘kao, kei te hē koe’ We just say ‘ae’ and say the correct words back to them.

They have their own cupboard in the kitchen for paper, pens and pencils so can help themselves anytime.  We have our own whare rules about where it’s okay to do writing and drawing, we’ve seen them try to put newspaper underneath their paper – we think they learned that at kōhanga.

Their curiosity and drive for exploring and experimenting is as strong as ever and they think they’re all grown up.

They’re starting to understand more about safety but we still need to be firm with our boundaries and be one step ahead of them to know they’re safe. They climb, open doors and lids, turns keys so watch out – they’re quick!

We need to go easy on the screen time too – talking and listening to real people is what helps pēpi learn best. We get them to help with little jobs around the house too which makes them feel important.


Waiata Kohungahunga
A ha ka ma

Here’s a fun song to practise the sounds of te reo Māori

A ha ka ma
A ha ka ma na pa ra ta wa nga wha
E he ke me
E he ke me ne pe re te we nge whe
I hi ki mi
I hi ki mi ni pi ri ti wi ngi whi
O ho ko mo
O ho ko mo no po ro to wo ngo who
A e
A e i o u
U hu ku mu
U hu ku mu nu pu ru tu wu ngu whu

Ngā mahi a whānau
Play is learning

Have a few old clothes, hats, and bags in a box that pēpi has easy access to. Role playing with ‘dress ups’ develops imagination, language and creativity as well as practical skills like dressing yourself and doing up buttons.

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Kaitiaki pēpi
Staying safe

Tamariki become more aware of their bodies and self-exploration is normal.  They notice differences in bodies, kōtiro and tama, pakeke and nohonohi.  They start to learn about sexuality whether we plan it or not.

Help them to keep themselves safe by knowing the correct names for their body parts and what they each do, so they can then talk about them without shame or embarrassment.

Keep explanations short and simple. Don’t save it for ‘the big talk.’ By hearing whānau talk openly, tamariki learn what’s okay and what’s not – for themselves and others.


Māui slows Tama-nui-te-rā

Māui loved to go fishing and playing during the day, but somedays he got so angry because the days were too short. One day as Māui was playing, Tama-nui-te-rā rose in the sky and then set straight away. Māui was really hōhā.

No matter how early they got up, there were still not enough hours of sunlight for the people to do all their mahi or go hunting and fishing.  Māui thought long and hard about what he could do to solve the problem. Then he went and talked to his brothers

Māui told his them he had come up with a plan to catch Tama-nui-te-rā. ‘Māui, don't be stupid!’ they replied. ‘No one can catch Tama-nui-te-rā, not even you. If you get anywhere near him you will be burnt alive – his mana is too powerful!’

But Māui had a plan. ‘We need everyone to help go and cut as much harakeke as possible. I want a really huge pile. Then I’ll show you how to make a net strong enough to capture even Tama-nui-te-rā.’ After many hours of work plaiting and tying, they finally had enough rope and nets.


Then off they went. It took several days to travel to the East and find the cave where Tama-nui-te-rā was sleeping. They quickly went to work covering the entrance with their gigantic net of plaited ropes. Then they hid.


Suddenly Māui shouted, ‘Pull! Pull the ropes as hard as you can!’ The net fell like a huge noose over Tama-nui-te-rā. Māui rushed out from the protection of his clay wall and with his special toki raised high above his head, he ran towards the sun.

‘What are you doing? Tama-nui-te-rā roared, ‘You go too fast across the sky, and we run out of time to finish our mahi. We need more hours of daylight for hunting and fishing.’ Māui replied.

‘Well,' said Tama-nui-te-rā. ‘If you free me, I will promise to slow my journey down.’ Māui agreed and everyone watched as Tama-nui-te-rā, slowly began to rise up into the sky.


Messages from this pakiwaitara

  • Don’t waste your time and enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Speak openly and honestly about things that trouble you.
  • Do what you say you are going to do – keep promises.

Kaitiaki pēpi
Koha, the act of giving

When visiting friends and whānau, a koha of kai may be appropriate, it could be your own special recipe or signature dish.  In more formal situations, taonga are sometimes given as a token of appreciation and respect. 

Giving mokopuna time and attention and making them feel safe and secure is the biggest koha any whānau can give them – it’s priceless!

Your baby's brain

The first three years are a busy time for the brain. Pēpi remembers so much because of the many permanent pathways that are now hardwired in their brain. They can remember waiata-ā-ringa, people and places, symbols and patterns now, all without someone else's prompting. The hinengaro grows so quickly in the first three years that it weighs about 1200 grams (80% the size of an adult brain which weighs about 1400 grams).

All the many skills and abilities pēpi has developed are through brain connections being strengthened by daily routines and repeated experiences. Through loving kōrero, waiata and tākaro with pēpi and whānau, their young brains have been ‘wiring up’ for a future of happiness and learning.

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Waiata Kohungahunga
Haere, haere, hīkoi haere

Here’s a fun song to practise sounds and actions together 


Haere, haere, hīkoi haere
Taihoa, whakarongo titiro
Huri, huri, rere haere
Ringa matau mauī
Ringa matau mauī ki waho
Papaki tītaha
Pakipaki tītaha
Pakipaki tītaha
Ringa pakipaki
Whatiwhati ō hope hei hei

(Tune: Green Door).

Ngā mahi a whānau
Let your fingers do the finding!

Memory games can be simple or complex – depends on what pēpi is ready for.

Push a plastic cup right down inside a long sock. Give pēpi three or four familiar things, small enough to fit inside the cup for example, a block, toy car, a little ball.  Have pēpi name the items as they drop them inside the sock.

Then ask them to ‘find’ an item without looking.  They’re using their memory of its shape and feel to find the right one. 

The wisdom of past generations

Mā te huruhuru, te manu ka rere
Adorn the bird with feathers, so it can fly 

Nau I whatu te kākahu, he tāniko tāku.
The cloak is woven before the ornamental border is added.

(Parents are responsible for the character of their child.)

Ngā mahi a whānau
Easy ‘whare’ fun - inside or out

Huts made of blankets or sheets are fun and pretty easy to make, hung between a couple of lounge chairs or over a table. With a bit of creative thinking, huts can be enjoyed inside or outside.

Throw in a few cushions, books and some things for a pretend picnic and the tamariki will be there for hours.

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Kaitiaki pēpi

Mana can mean prestige, influence and power. Māori believe mana exists in three forms:

  • Inherited through whakapapa
  • Given by others in recognition of good deeds or humility
  • As part of a group effort

Mana exists in all of us, even pēpi and tamariki.  Everyone has mana to keep themselves safe.  Mana can mean having the confidence to speak up if something feels wrong or unsafe.

Say it like it is

Say it as it is