Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street Activities

Watercress Tuna and the children of Champion Street

Written by Patricia Grace

Illustrated by Robyn Kahuhiwa

Published by Puffin, 1984

A tuna (eel) with a magic throat travels to Champion Street, a typical inner city New Zealand street with compact state housing and power lines. There the tuna presents gifts to the children who live there. The gifts all represent the children’s own cultural heritages – a kie for Kelehia and a hau for Kava (Tokelauan), a piupiu for Hirini and a poi for Roimata (New Zealand Maori), a pate for Tuaine and a pareu for Nga (Cook Island Maori), and an ula for Losa and an ailao afi for Fa’afetai (Samoan). The theme of this story is Pasifica, with  four key Pacific cultures being represented within the story. Grace also alludes to gender roles within each culture, by assigning gender specific ‘gifts’ from the tuna.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

NZ Curriculum Level 1 ,2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
Activity In this story we read about some traditional music and dance styles from different cultures – Samoan, English, Maori, Cook Island Maori and Tokelauan – many of the cultures here in New Zealand.

1. As you read through the story, talk with the children about the different things on each page – have they ever seen/ played on one of these? Which culture might this be from?

2. After children have made their predictions, tell them which culture each item is from:

– Kelehia’s kie is from Tokelauan

– Karen’s buckled shoe is English

– Hirini’s piupiu is New Zealand Maori

– Tuaine’s pate is Cook Island Maori

– Roimata’s poi is New Zealand Maori

– Kava’s hau is Toeklauan

– Nga’s pareu is Cook Island Maori

– Losa’s ula is Samoan

– Jason’s paper streamer is English

– Fa’afetai’s ailao afi is Samoan

  • At Level 1, students can listen to music from each culture and respond through movement and dance. In groups they can make up their own dances in the style of each culture and perform back to the class. If possible, have the items mentioned in the story for children to use as they explore difference dances. See ‘Resources’ for example of music and dance from each culture. If at all possible, have an ‘expert’ come in and demonstrate the dance.
  • At Levels 2 and 3 students can explore the significance of these traditional dances for each culture. Using the links provided, examine the elements of each cultures music and dance and use this to create their own music and / or movement in that cultural style. Share with the class and make connections to styles which may cross over between cultures.
Resources Tokelauan music and dance:

NZ Maori music and dance:

  • Poi. Retrieved from


  • Dances of life (Maori excerpt) – shows piupiu. Retrieved from


Cook Island Maori music and dance:


Samoan music and dance:

  • Samoa fiafia – shows ula. Retrieved from


English music and dance:

Taking it further
  • Find some traditional music and send children away in groups to put together their own dance, incorporating some of the moves they have seen on the video clips. Practice and perform to the class.
  • Children could make their own costumes to wear while performing. For example, use long strips of paper to make the grass skirts and girls could put flowers in their hair.
Curriculum Links The Arts


  • demonstrate an awareness of dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 1)
  • improvise and explore movement ideas in response to a variety of stimuli (Level 1)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and share their thoughts and feelings in response to their own and others’ dances (Level 1)
  • identify and describe dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 2)
  • use the elements of dance in purposeful ways to respond to a variety of stimuli (Level 2)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and identify the use of the elements of dance (Level 2)
  • explore and describe dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)
  • select and combine dance elements response to a variety of stimuli (Level 3)
  • use the elements of dance to describe dance movements and respond to dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)

Music (Sound Art)

  • explore and share ideas about music from a range of sound environments and recognize that music serves a variety of purposes and functions in their lives and in their communities (Level 1 and 2)
  • share music making with others; respond to live and recorded music (Level 1 and 2)
  • identify and describe the characteristics of music associated with a range of sound environments, in relation to historical, social and cultural contexts (Level 3)
  • prepare and present brief performances of music, using performance skills and techniques; respond to and reflect on live and recorded music (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At higher levels, the emphasis could be on defining the elements of the music and dance of different cultures, and using these elements as the basis for their own music and dance compositions, with increasing complexity.

Activity 2: MYTHICAL CREATURES: Creative Writing (English)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • managing self
Activity This story is about a tuna (eel) with a magic throat. Obviously the story is fiction. At Level 1, talk with children about the differences between fiction and non-fiction stories.

1.Tell the students that they are going to write a fictional story about their own magical creature. Spend some time thinking and drawing some ‘made up’ creatures – they could be based on a real creature (like the tuna), or they could be completely fictional (like a taniwha).

Think about – what the creature looks like

–      where it lives

–      what magical powers it has

2. When the students have developed their ideas of a fictional creature, share with a partner. During this process they may be able to develop or refine their ideas further.

3. Share some children’s ideas as a class – can any further developments be made?

4. Begin to plan for writing.

  • At Level 1, students can discuss orally what will happen in their story. They may use a model similar to Watercress Tuna:

(Insert location of magical creature) there lives a (insert creature name, with description. One day (insert creature name) made a (insert verb) and (insert where they went). Then students can continue with what magic the creature did.

  • At Level 2 and 3, children can do more comprehensive planning for their writing. They should organise paragraphs in the following way:

Paragraph 1: Introduce mythical creature and give detailed description

Paragraph 2: How the creature moves and where is goes

Paragraph 3/4/5 etc: Body of the story – the creatures magical movements

Final paragraph: a suitable ending

5. After planning, students can begin to write their story. At Levels 2 and 2, use peer editing to edit writing. Stories may be published into children’s own books, if applicable.

Taking it further
  • Create a piece of artwork which illustrates their magical creature (Visual Art)
  • Share published writing/ books with other classes. Put them in the school library for others to read (English)
  • Make stories into KidPix slideshows (English/ Technology)
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)
  • show a developing understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 3)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • use language features, showing some recognition of their effects (Level 1)
  • organise texts, using simple structures (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
  • use language features appropriately, showing some understanding of their effects (Level 2)
  • organise texts, using a range of structures (Level 2)
  • select, form and communicate ideas on a range of topics (Level 3)
  • use language features appropriately, showing a developing understanding of their effects (Level 3)
  • organise texts, using a range of appropriate structures (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above This activity could be carried out at any Level. At higher levels, students should show a developing understanding of how they can use language features and structure for particular effects in their writing. They should use increasingly complex ideas and show use increasingly developed editing skills.
Links to other NZPBC books The terrible taniwha of Timberditch – this story tells of other mythical creatures from around the world

Activity 3:  MULTICULTURALISM IN NEW ZEALAND (Social Science/ Health/ Mathematics)
NZ Curriculum Level 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • managing self
  • participating and contributing
Activity This story has multiculturalism as one of its key themes. Living in the same street, in a New Zealand town, are children from 5 different cultures – Maori, Cook Island, Samoan, English and Tokelauan.

The purpose of this lesson is to help build children’s awareness and understanding of the multicultural nature of New Zealand.

1. After reading, go back through the story and identify the different cultures found living on Champion Street.

Ask the children:

  • Is Champion Street like your street?
  • What different cultures are living on your street?
  • What different cultures do we have within our classroom?

Establish that New Zealand is a multicultural society. Many different cultures make up our population.

2. Tell students that they are going to carry out a statistical investigation to find out how different cultures are represented within the school. Encourage discussion about how this information might be gained.

3. In pairs or small groups, students should visit different classes and collect data on the student’s cultures. They should decide how they are going to collect the information first. Share ideas as a class and decide on a best way – it may be a tally chart?

4. After students have visited classes in their pairs or groups, they will need to use the data collected to create graphs.

Data could be represented as a bar, pie, line or stem and leaf graphs. Students who are working at Level 3 may represent their data using a variety of different graphs.

  • Consider also using ICT technologies to create graphs, for example Microsoft Word or Numbers.

5. Share and discuss findings.

6. Ask students: now that the cultures within each individual class have been identified, how can we use this information to get the total for the whole school?

Work together as a class to collate all data into a school-wide result.

7. Consider the results. They will most likely show a wide range of cultures represented in the school. Generate a discussion about this, with a focus on Health aspects:

  • What does this mean for us as a class/ school?
  • Should our cultural differences affect the way we treat each other?
  • When we treat each other differently because of our culture it is called discrimination.
  • Have you ever seen/ been involved in discrimination like this?
  • What can we do to ensure that discrimination of this nature does not happen in our class/ school/ on our street?
Taking it further
  • Prepare a report to take to other classes. Use statistical investigation to illustrate the point (English)
  • Explore and discuss incidences of racial/ cultural discrimination in the media/ current events (Social Science/ Health)
Curriculum Links Social Science
  • understand how people make choices to meet their needs and wants (Level 2)
  • understand how people make significant contributions to New Zealand society (Level 2)
  • understand how the movement of people affects cultural diversity and interaction in New Zealand (Level 3)


Identity, sensitivity and respect

  • describe how individuals and groups share characteristics and are also unique (Level 2)
  • identify ways in which people discriminate and ways to act responsibly to support themselves and other people (Level 3)



  • conduct investigations using the statistical enquiry cycle: posing and answering questions; gathering, sorting, and displaying category and whole-number data; communicating findings based on the data (Level 2)
  • compare statements with the features of simple data displays from statistical investigations undertaken by others (Level 2)
  • conduct investigations using the statistical enquiry cycle: gathering, sorting and displaying multivariate category and whole-number data and simple time-series data to answer questions; identifying patterns and trends in context, within, and between data sets; communicating findings, using data displays (Level 3)
  • evaluate the effectiveness of different displays in representing the findings of a statistical investigation undertaken by others (Level 3)
Applications for Level 1 At Level 1, students can carry out basic statistical investigations and use tally charts or bar graphs to represent data. They should begin to understand that New Zealand is made up of many different cultures and begin to consider how the cultures of people in New Zealand are expressed in their daily lives.
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 4 and above, students should begin to explore how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies. They should investigate why people move between places and how this has consequences for the people and the places. They should begin to explore societal responses to multiculturalism, and how conflicts can arise from different cultural beliefs, as well as how they can be addressed in different ways.

In statistical exquiry, students should use an increasingly complex enquiry cycle and should begin to make inferences from surveys carried out.