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Te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools - Discussion

Key content


Key content

This clip captures general discussion about the role of the principal; the importance of making Māori language learning enjoyable; the value in schools offering reo Māori programmes; and the benefits of having the Māori language curriculum guidelines, Te Aho Arataki.

Things to think about


Things to think about

  • In what ways can your principal/senior management team make your mahi more effective?
  • What are the advantages of having guidelines for the teaching of Māori language?
  • In discussions with parents (especially those who are dubious about the value of their children learning Māori), what arguments could you present to shift their perspective?




How important is support from school principals for te reo Māori?

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: Best evidence in research shows that the principal should be involved in professional development as a role model for their staff. And so I can help support Rachel in implementing this is in our school.

Antony Criglington Assistant Principal, Thorrington School: And one of the ways you’re going to go forward in your school is when leadership are part of it because if you’re trying to...if you come here as a teacher and say try and do something in isolation, it’s far more difficult. But when I think that the leadership and management of the school’s on board with it, it makes it so much more easier. And also you get a school-wide approach to things, you don’t get little bits in isolation.

What do you enjoy most about teaching te reo Māori?

Mathew Jennings HOD Māori, Lincoln High School: I have a passion for the Māori language so to try to get that, to communicate that to students so that they can take that and be passionate about the Māori language is the main thing for me. As long as I can see it in their eyes...that the passion is there... the drive follows, the learning follows, everything just kind of falls into place as soon as you find that passion.

It’s hugely uplifting to know that your culture does count. It makes you feel a lot of pride and things like that.

Why is it important for school to offer te reo Māori programmes?

Manu Paringatai HOD Māori, Linwood College: For a lot of students too, this is the first aspect of their culture that they get. They don’t know otherwise, who they are, where they come from...it’s part of their identity and for them to want to learn te reo Māori, you’ve got to have the passion to learn it, the passion to teach it but also you know it helps them to identify who they are, where they come from. And what’s important to them.

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: I think at our school where over 50% of our students are Māori, that it’s the identity part that’s the really important part of te reo Māori. I mean I had an incident yesterday in the classroom with a young Māori student having a competition with our mihi and me testing her, she was looking at the careers website and she chose to look at the te reo part of it. And me just teasing about how much she knew and she could recognise and she was translating it back to me and we were just having a lovely wee banter, and it doesn’t worry me that I’m Pākehā because they love teaching me.

What do you think about the new curriculum guidelines for te reo Māori?

Julie Calder Lead Teacher, Cashmere Primary School: What I do quite like seeing is the concrete of what is expected for each level, what you want them to achieve, what you want the students to be able to say and communicate by each level...which would make our job so much easier.

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: I think it’s wonderful just actually having a curriculum document. It just shows the value in teaching te reo and it just sends a really powerful message across the whole education sector.

Mathew Jennings HOD Māori, Lincoln High School: I’m just really impressed with how the new document looks as opposed to the older one, it’s so much more reader friendly, it’s so much easier to follow. And just a little bit more a help in terms of the resources and the suggested topics and things like that. It’s just really nicely laid out.

Any further thoughts on teaching te reo Māori?

Julie Calder Lead Teacher, Cashmere Primary School: I’ve found that a lot of Māori has been left to the CIT teacher release to come in and just teach in the primary schools for the half hour that they get every week. And I think that I’d like to see that change and it just become a more integral part of the day.

Antony Criglington Assistant Principal, Thorrington School: Probably a bit like us in terms of that, you know, white middle class...

Julie Calder Lead Teacher, Cashmere Primary School: Well it’s the knowledge factor too isn’t it? It’s who’s got the most knowledge to teach it, who has the most resources and the most background to be able to teach the language, the expertise in the language.

Antony Criglington Assistant Principal, Thorrington School: So much of what we’re doing is about...we teach a lot of nouns and those sorts of things and they’re not put into context or they’re not put into...teaching phrases, that’s quite evident from the document too. It’s a whole shift in what....we really need to dig a lot deeper. The importance of involving local iwi too as we talked about before, resource teachers.

Manu Paringatai HOD Māori, Linwood College: It’s that whole shift from reo based programmes to tikanga based programmes. So you can’t really teach the reo unless you’re teaching the tikanga that surrounds it. I mean that’s where you get just the teaching of the nouns and there’s actually nothing behind, but if you’re teaching the tikanga with it then you can actually pick up the knowledge from one aspect and move it across the different themes. So you can move it across the different themes you’re teaching as long as you have that reo base. And that’s where the tikanga side of it comes in. So instead of just teaching all body parts, teaching “I have a head” or “these are my arms”, “I have five fingers” sort of thing and putting into a sentence structure.

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: And I think it’s not just for Pākehā teachers, I’ve got quite a few Māori teachers in my school. And just because they’ve got brown skin doesn’t mean to say that they’re confident in teaching te reo and tikanga and I think that they need extra support, because I’ve found some Māori teachers are quite embarrassed because they don’t have that confidence.

Antony Criglington Assistant Principal, Thorrington School: There’s an expectation put on them...

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: There’s a very high expectation.

Manu Paringatai HOD Māori, Linwood College: That’s where you’ve got to define between a Māori teacher and a teacher who is Māori. Some schools do automatically assume oh there’s a brown face, they can speak Māori, they can take the Māori side of things.

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: And you can’t do that, it’s not fair. It puts too much pressure on them.

Manu Paringatai HOD Māori, Linwood College: And like you were saying, we lose a lot of our Māori students for te reo in high school but like somebody was saying, quite often it’s not the kids wanting to take te reo Māori, it’s their whānau pushing them to take it. So they’ll take it for a year to keep their whānau happy and then they don’t want anything to do with it.

Tina Lomax Principal, Kingslea School: For our students the importance is building up their identity, because our children being children in residential care for Child, Youth and Family...they’re lost and this is one way of giving them identity and building up their mana and self esteem and helping them feel good about themselves. So we can’t be tied to the curriculum levels at a particular year, because our kids often have missed 2 or 3 years of education but back to the document, the bit we were looking at this morning that I thought was really important was showing the career pathways. Some of the really positive reasons why our children should be learning te reo and that there are real pathways for careers, particularly for secondary students.

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