20 Jul 2018

WHAT IF….every student in every school learn’t two Māori words and one Māori phrase per week?  All, by the time they reached Year 10!  They would know 800 words and 400 phrases. This would take 5 minutes of learning and maintenance per day.  Too hard?  No – too easy!  And this is basically what Te Reo Tuatahi is setting about doing weekly in their schools by delivering a 30 minute lesson in every class once a week.  

Another positive is if this was to happen, we would eventually put a halt to the generational re-cycling of adults (both Māori and non-Māori) who sign up (in their droves now) at various tertiary institutions year after year to learn te reo Māori at a much older age.  And for many they do it time and time again. While the mind and heart are determined in the beginning, eventually the energy of combining this along with the challenges of work, raising a family and life in general, slowly takes it’s inevitable toll and you find things have come to a grinding halt … again!  Five steps forward … and six months later…three steps back. Better sign up for another course!  Its a vicious and disempowering cycle!

95% of Māori tamariki attend mainstream school, for whatever reasons (and we all know them) they are not lining up at the Kohanga Reo gate or going on to Kura Kaupapa.  We owe it to them to ensure they have access to their language no matter what school they are in.  And access to good quality programmes, not the ones that regurgitate numbers, colours and days of the week etc, year after year!!  

Why don’t we just make a promise to ourselves that from this point on every rangatahi that leaves our schools in Year 13, leaves with a competent level of conversational Māori under their belts?  Too hard?  No…it’s too easy!  Maybe that’s the problem?  We make the solution ‘sound’ too easy, but fortunately for us … it actually is!!

Te Reo Tuatahi is now in it’s fifth year.  An evaluation done by Wyllie & Associates back in 2016 proved beyond a doubt (and with a few improvements here and there) that we are on the right track.  We have had Principals sing our praises, parents sending their tamariki to school with their whakapapa overjoyed that they have access to a good quality te reo Māori programme in their schools.  We have had our work in mainstream schools recognised by Te Taura Whiri taking out the 2016 national award for Matauranga-Auraki.  All we need is a bit more help to get into more schools and start reaching as many tamariki (Māori and non-Māori) as we can!  

I have been reluctant to wade into the te reo in schools debate because I feel like a stuck record singing the same old tune but then something happens….something like the passing of Koro Wetere who fought long and hard, against all odds and against a very racist system back in his day to get te reo Māori recognised as an official language of this country in 1987.  But what has come with this recognition?  We waste so much time on debating the issues….still?  Compulsory te reo in schools?  Optional te reo in schools?  Just get it into the schools!  Just make it accessible and available in every school! Too easy!  Āe – Māmā noiho!


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