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About Me

New Zealand Pōhutakawa Flower by Emily Cater

Kia Ora,

Welcome to my site.  Here you will find information about my work at a New Zealand primary school, Eastern Hutt School, where I created a school-wide music and movement programme using the Orff approach.  You will find some background to the Orff approach and how this sits within our unique social, historical, and cultural context, as well as a curriculum that details the learning progression from year 0 to year 6.  All classes at Eastern Hutt School have about twenty music classes, of 45 minutes each, spread over the year.  The curriculum presented here is further supported by work with generalist teachers in the classroom.


The curriculum I have developed has grown out of a range of experiences.  These include being a generalist primary school teacher, being a mum of three children, completing Orff teaching certification to Level 4 alongside postgraduate studies in bicultural studies/arts education, and most recently teaching as an Orff music specialist at Eastern Hutt School.  Over the last eight years I have applied the Orff approach in a range of educational settings including:

  • early childhood playcentre and home-based music groups 

  • primary school teaching and

  • tertiary level teaching at Victoria University as part of pre-service education. 


I am also actively involved with ONZA (Orff New Zealand Aotearoa) and I am currently one of ONZA's educators for their certified levels courses.


I have a strong interest in research and arts based curriculum development for New Zealand primary schools.  I have a Masters of Education, through Waikato University, specialising in music and arts education.   My dissertation research focussed on how a group of New Zealand Orff teachers have engaged with issues of bicultural and national identity in their teaching practice.  This research encouraged me to look back on our rich history of arts education in New Zealand and to find ways to connect this with the Orff approach in our current educational context.  The button below provides a link to my Masters dissertation work.  I am now a full time student again as a doctoral candidate at Te Puna Wānanga, Auckland University, where my research focus is on settler-indigenous relationships within arts based education.   



There is plenty of evidence that a strong music and movement curriculum can have huge benefits for all children as part of a general primary school education.  This is especially true when it incorporates language work, singing, dance movement, guided listening, and active music making along with plenty of opportunities to improvise and create.  These benefits include:

  • enabling children to connect with their imaginations and express their ideas in a range of different ways

  • increasing children’s awareness and connection with the environment and each other

  • nurturing emotional wellbeing and

  • developing children's confidence in making artistic judgements in relation to their own and other’s work


Children who have regular opportunities to sing, dance, play, improvise and create with language and story, develop a rhythm to their writing, use larger descriptive vocabularies, and make more nuanced observations of the world around them (people and places).  Further they develop an attention to detail that can support them to make artistic judgements as future performers, composers, choreographers, or audiences.  In addition this curriculum celebrates the evolving shared culture here in New Zealand, between Māori and Pākehā.  It is hoped that the material shared on this site will initiate more discussions and enthusiasm for developing strong arts curricula for our New Zealand primary school children.

Ngā Mihi

Priya Gain

Workshopping with children and visiting musicians at Eastern Hutt School 2016

Click below to read more

Patupaiarehe by Emily Cater

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