The New Zealand Context - how does Rock and Water fit?

Te Whare Whakamana (House of Empowerment)

The Rock and Water programme has a systematic approach that is carefully designed to ensure that participants learn in a safe, structured and positive environment. It also coincidentally reflects the principles and ethos of the Whare Tapa Wha model - now commonly used across many organisations in New Zealand - and also complements programmes widely used in education establishments, such as Te Kotahitanga, Restorative Practices and the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L).

Each individual can be seen as a house, or whare. The basic foundation stones (skills) must be solidly built in order for the walls of the whare to be strong. Safety and self-confidence are required if an individual is to be open to new learning and development.

The Rock and Water programme builds strong, confident individuals, starting with external communication skills ("How I see others, how they see me") and then moving to an internal focus ("Who am I? Where do I want to go in life?) as the levels of understanding and self-confidence develop.

The foundation stones and lower levels of the programme can be taught to students as young as five, with the upper levels more suited to those 14+.

The New Zealand Curriculum

The new NZ curriculum has been developed with clear visions in mind. The curriculum document has as one of its ‘visions’ young people that are:

  • Confident - positive in their own identity, motivated and reliable, resourceful, enterprising and entrepreneurial, resilient
  • Connected - able to relate well to others, effective users of communication tools, connected to the land and the environment, members of communities, international citizens
  • Actively involved - participants in a range of life contexts, contributors to the wellbeing of New Zealand
  • Lifelong learners - literate and numerate, critical and creative thinkers, Active seekers, users and creators of knowledge, informed decision makers

The Rock and Water programme is designed to develop many of these skills. The ethos behind the programme involves the generation of self-confidence through the development of self-awareness and self-respect. An individual who is confident about who they are as a person can then be strong enough to recognize differences and accept others for who they are. With the development of self awareness comes the ability to empathise with others, to develop relationships and to communicate effectively. In a multicultural world these are vital skills if we are to live in peace and develop our sense of community. Of course a community may be that of whanau, a school, a workplace, a local area or the country as a whole.

Biculturalism in action

The way Rock and Water is delivered brings together the participants, connects them, develops a real understanding and practice of respect, ensures that everyone is valued, that everyone has a voice and an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences, and for everyone to learn and play with each other. 

It is easy to look at, feel, demonstrate and understand tikanga; kotahitanga, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, wairua, ako etc. 

New Zealand study

A paper titled "A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety" was published (in January 2011) by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

"Childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances and criminal offending outcomes".

The authors focus upon the participants of The Dunedin study, a long-term project that follows the lives (from birth) of over 1000 individuals from Dunedin, New Zealand. The paper shows that:

Basically, the more self-control an individual has, the more wealth and better health they are likely to have, and fewer incidences of law beaking behaviour, no matter what social class origin or level of IQ. The report suggests that even a small increase in self-control can have a huge impact on a person's future, and that self-control can be taught at any stage ... so Rock and Water has the potential to make a massive impact on our communities, or as the authors stated:

"Our findings imply that innovative policies that put self-control centre stage might reduce a panopoly of costs that now heavily burden citizens and governments." See the full report