A small Ngāpuhi school is harnessing its history, environment and kaumatua to help keep its local reo alive.
Te Kura o Waikare is one of two Kura-ā-Iwi (tribal schools) in Te Tai Tokerau electorate, and the school's remote location is proving the perfect environment to strengthen the dialect of Ngāpuhi iwi.
Waikare is an isolated community about a 30 minute drive from Kawakawa in Northland.
It's surrounded by steep bush terrain to the west, and the outer reaches of the Waikare inlet to the east.
The kura, which has a roll of 44 students, is a special character school known as a kura-ā-iwi.
Last year, Cheryl Meek returned to Northland to become tumuaki of the school.
"Being a kura-ā-iwi is about mana whenua - so teaching the stories, history, waiata that pertain to Te Kapotai first and foremost - and then broadening our outlook after that."
One of the biggest challenges she said was encouraging whānau to speak te reo Māori at home.
"What we do here at the kura is we may put little kiwaha or phrases in our newsletters. We've also had reo classes for whānau."
But she knows where the future of the language lies.
"Our tamariki will be the revitalisers of te reo, so when I look at them as parents I think they will be the ones who will be embracing te reo Māori more at home when they become older."
Robert Werekake knows how fortunate he was to learn te reo from his kuia and kaumatua.
The 78-year old is the kaumatua for the school - and he plays a key role in helping to share the history, stories and language of the local hapū Te Kapotai.
Mr Werekake said there needed to be patience when teaching students.
"There needs to be an illustration of what's been said, what's been done and at the end of the day that is the real significance of the tikanga of Māori."
Karen Ryder is in her first year at the school as a registered teacher and sees kura-ā-iwi as the next step in teaching te reo Māori.
"Te Kaupapa o te kura-ā-iwi just makes things flow naturally - the kaupapa there is to learn about your whenua, your hapū all those types of things."
As a student she was never allowed to speak te reo Māori - but she said she didn't want to dwell on the past.
"I think somehow we put too much focus on revitalisation ...we were told our parents and that couldn't speak te reo, we've got to move on from that."
Kaiako or teacher Arthur Taunuka grew up in Auckland and understands the struggle of many Māori to connect to their homeland.
But he's not worried about the state of local te reo Māori.
"My biggest challenge is trying learn as much as I can about our kupu from home here and using them as much as I can."