The Arts Ngaa Toi

The Arts Ngaa Toi

15 June 2024

“The arts” is the collective term for four disciplines; music, dance, visual arts, and drama. For preschool children, the arts play a very important role in communication and the expression of ideas. In fact, it is often said that the arts are the first literacies for tamariki. This is because each of these disciplines involves the use of symbols (expression, movement, gesture, image, and sound) to convey meaning. Toi, or Māori art, centres around four primary art forms; raranga (weaving), whakairo (carving), tā moko (tattooing) and peitatanga (painting).

Through July, we'll be looking at visual arts. What is defined as visual arts is shaped by cultural and social values. Some common examples include painting, clay work, sculpture, collage, weaving, construction, photography, wearable art, carving, printing, ephemera (eg, postcards, menus, greeting cards, etc), and more.

The use of natural resources and materials in Pacific arts is common. Making use of abundant natural resources connects people strongly to the land and the natural environment. It is an expression of acknowledgement of creation and supports sustainability. For example:

  • the kakala represents the Tongan process of selecting the most beautiful flowers and leaves to create garlands;
  • in the Cook Islands the making of ‘ei katu involves the gathering of flowers and leaves to weave;
  • in Fiji the process of salusalu involves weaving dried flowers into a necklace;
  • in Samoa, the process of laufatu, weaving flowers and leaves to create ula and floral garlands.

For pre-literate children, visual art is one of the first ways in which they can explore and communicate their thoughts and ideas about the world around them. Children who have some language may communicate what their art is about, making both the artwork and what they share equally important. Providing regular time, space, and making it fun for children to be creative with visual arts fosters:

  • Creativity and imagination
  • Self-expression
  • Confidence and independance
  • Fine motor skills
  • Problem solving
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Social skills
  • Critical thinking.

Information from Te Kete Ipurangi and