Stories of the Pacific Years 1–8

Curriculum Links: Visual Arts – Mathematics – Social Sciences
Cost: Free

During the Te Tuhi programme ‘Stories from the Pacific’ we will learn how artists use signs and symbols to tell stories within Pacific culture. We will see examples of work by Pacific artists and inspire students to create their own signs and symbols to tell their personal story.

During our Te Tuhi visit students will use the signs and symbols we designed in class to help create an artwork inspired by Polynesian tapa. Students will use colour, shape and line with a range of art materials to help tell our story. 

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Learning Outcomes

Visual Arts, levels 1–4

Understanding the Arts in Context
During our pre-visit exercises we will learn how tapa is made and the importance of tapa in Pacific culture. We will see how tapa design has inspired many Pacific artists and the artwork they make.

Developing Ideas
During our pre-visit we will learn to develop our ideas to create simplified/symbolic imagery or icons that will visually help with telling our story.

Developing Practical Knowledge
During our visit we will learn to use a range of materials dye, pencil and pastel to help create a tapa-inspired artwork that tells our story.

Communicating and Interpreting
During our visit we will share our ideas and thoughts about the art we see and make. We will listen to how others have created their art.


Geometry and Measurement – Transformation
During the extension activity we will learn about the symmetry and use of rotation within Polynesian symbols.

Social Sciences

Social Studies
During this programme we will explore the importance of Polynesian tapa and how much it is valued within Pacific culture. Through its various uses during celebratory occasions Polynesian tapa helps sustain culture, tradition and heritage.

Key Competencies

At Te Tuhi all our workshops are designed with these key competencies in mind:


Success Criteria: I know I will be successful if I…

  • Share my opinions about the ideas we are discussing about the artworks
  • Share my questions and confusions I have about the artworks and how they are represented
  • Add to other people’s ideas in group discussion

Using language, symbols and texts

Success Criteria: I know I will be successful if I…

  • Make connections and think deeply about the artworks I see
  • Listen carefully to the specialised art language that the Te Tuhi facilitator shares with us
  • Respond in oral, visual or writing when sharing my ideas

Relating to others

Success Criteria: I know I will be successful if I…

  • Listen actively when people are sharing their opinions
  • Take my turn to share my ideas and opinions
  • Work quietly in the art studio so that others can think and concentrate on their artwork to produce their best work

Participating and contributing

Success Criteria: I know I will be successful if I…

  • Use my time productively by engaging in sharing my ideas
  • Listen actively to the ideas of others
  • Take a risk and share my questions or confusions to help my understanding

Managing self

Success Criteria: I know I will be successful if I…

  • Use a quiet voice when I am in a gallery space so other visitors can reflect on the artworks without disturbance
  • Walk quietly and sensibly and show respect in the public gallery and art studio
  • Use the gallery time to think deeply about what I am seeing and link my experiences to the artwork (important ‘think time’)