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Ko wai te whaea? - Who is the mother?

Achievement objective

2.5 Communicate about characteristics.

Learning intention

Students can:

  • describe their own, and other people’s, family.


At the end of this lesson, students can:

PānuiPānui – reading: Recognise and understand simple, familiar written words, phrases, and sentences.

TuhituhiTuhituhi – writing: Write simple, familiar words, phrases and sentences using spelling and punctuation conventions.


Lesson sequence

In this lesson, the students will discuss family relationships based on a basic whakapapa, or family tree.

Use the family tree from Teachers’ notes 2A: Te whānau o Hera. Show it to the students. Discuss with them how we could describe the relationships shown, for example:

  • Hera is the mother because she is on a level above the children.
  • You can tell she is a woman because there is an ‘F’ next to her name for female.
  • The people in the lower line are brothers and a sister because they belong to one family.
  • Hōri is the older brother of Mere and Pita because his name is written first, going from left to right.
  • The ‘=’ sign joins Hera and Rangi and indicates that they are married/partners.

To reinforce the way that relationships are shown in a family tree, ask the students where they would place their names in their own family tree.

  • Are you the oldest or youngest child?
  • How many children are in the second row of your family tree? (For example: where do you and your siblings sit?)
  • Are you an aunty or an uncle yourself?

Introduce the family terms related to this basic family tree by asking:

Ko wai te whaea? Who is the mother?
Ko Hera. Ko Hera te whaea. Hera. Hera is the mother.
Ko wai te tuahine? Who is the sister? (of a male)
Ko Mere te tuahine. Mere is the sister.
Ko wai te matua? Who is the father?
Ko Rangi te matua. Rangi is the father.

When the family terms have been introduced, display Crossword 2A: Te whānau o Hera and answer each question together as a class.

Use Teachers’ notes 2B: Te whānau o Iritana and ask the students to complete the crossword themselves on copies of Crossword 2B: Te whānau o Iritana.

Language to use

whaea mother
matua father

older sister (of a female)

older brother (of a male)

teina younger sister (of a female)
younger brother (of a male)
tuahine sister (of a male)
tamāhine daughter
tamaiti son/child
tungāne brother (of a female)


The students could work in pairs when completing Crossword 2B: Te whānau o Iritana.

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