Most teachers are using te reo Māori

11:20 am on 19 December 2017

Most teachers are using te reo Māori at some level in the classroom, a survey has found.

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Te reo Māori use was mostly at a basic level in English-medium classroms but 44 percent of teachers used it in story-telling, poetry or to teach curriculum content. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The Council for Educational Research council's national survey of primary and intermediate schools found just 1 percent never use the language with students.

The research found schools were more aware of the need to support the language and culture of their Māori students, but there was still "quite a way to go".

"Increasing the number of teachers who speak te reo Māori, and the level at which they can speak it and use it with their students, should also be a priority," the survey report said.

The survey found of the 771 teachers who responded, 10 percent used Māori most of the time in their classrooms and 44 percent spoke it quite often.

"Most use of te reo Māori with students in English-medium classrooms was at a basic level, for greetings such as 'kia ora', and farewells, such as 'ka kite', or for giving short instructions or directions," the report said.

"Thirty-nine percent of teachers overall used te reo Māori either in creative contexts such as story-telling or poetry, or in conversations with students, or to teach curriculum content."

Only 3 percent of teachers said learning te reo never or almost never happened in their classrooms and only 1 percent of teachers said they did not use te reo Māori with students at all.

The research said 86 percent believed it was important that students learned te reo Maori, 88 percent of teachers promoted Māori cultural values in their classrooms.

Among school principals, 92 percent of the 200 who responded said their school incorporated tikanga and te reo Māori into their school-wide practices, while 97 percent said their school valued te reo Māori.

The report said schools had long needed more teachers who could speak te reo, which suggested that new approaches to the problem were needed.

The current situation meant English-medium primary schools were only able to provide limited access to Māori-medium education.

"The issue of teacher shortage could be addressed by building up the numbers of Māori-speaking teachers to reach a critical mass so that attrition from the profession has minimal impact. It is also important to keep raising the level at which te reo Māori is taught in English-medium schools," the report said.

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