12 Sep 2018

Netball: Make te reo Māori compulsory says Silver Fern

7:14 am on 12 September 2018

A top Silver Ferns netballer has added her voice to the call for the teaching of te reo Māori to be made compulsory in schools.

Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit believes as an example of the relevance of te reo Māori the language should be made compulsory in schools.

Te wiki o te reo Māori has been recognised in New Zealand since 1975 and te reo Māori an official language since 1985 yet debates continue to heat up on whether or not it should be made compulsory in schools.

An advocate for the language is Silver Fern netballer Te Paea Selby-Rickit who grew up attending Kura Kaupapa and Wharekura to learn and preserve the language.

Raised in Otaki by mother and former All Black father Hud Rickit, Te Paea has become one of the record three fluent te reo Māori speakers named in the Silver Ferns for this weekend's match against England and believes te reo Māori has helped shape her career.

Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit

Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit Photo: Photosport

"There are not many people who have come through to this level who have been from kura kaupapa so for me I want to be a good example," said Selby-Rickit.

"We grew up speaking only Māori to my mum and English to my dad and I want to show that there is a pathway and you can make it to this level."

The Māori presence was evident at Silver Ferns training today both on and off the court. Coaches Noeline Taurua and Debbie Fuller are the only current female coaching duo, Māori, leading a New Zealand sports team to the world stage.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

But it's not only this platform Selby-Rickit uses with both her and sister Te Huinga Reo part of the championship winning side the Southern Steel.

While Selby-Rickit admits it can be hard to find other reo speakers based in Invercargill, her sister and Steel teammate Courtney Elliot help with retaining the language.

"Down south it can be tough but when we get together with the Steel we always try to speak as much as we can to each other," says Selby-Rickit

"And then there are girls in the Ferns who can speak Māori - there's Maia Wilson, Aliyah Dunn and Casey (Kopua) is currently learning te reo Māori.

"Keeping the Māori going is important because at school I used to speak really confidently but now I'm not as confident."

A way to further preserve the language would be to make te reo Māori compulsory in schools, an idea Selby-Rickit fully endorses.

She learnt the language at specific Māori-based schools and says there is room to grow mainstream.

"It should be absolutely compulsory in schools, it's an official language so why not, it's native to New Zealand," says Selby-Rickit

"There are a lot of benefits in it being compulsory for everyone and it's becoming more common."

"There are people out there who believe it isn't possible to succeed coming from a Maori family, but there is a way and we are good examples."