Graduate urges te reo for classrooms programme be extended

2:49 pm on 18 October 2019

A graduate from a te reo Māori programme that aims to have more te reo spoken in classrooms is urging the government to fund it nationwide next year.

students writing

Another 70 teachers graduated in Waikanae today from Te Ahu o te reo Māori programme. Photo: 123RF

Another 70 teachers graduated in Waikanae today from Te Ahu o te reo Māori programme, a course designed to integrate te reo Māori into schools by 2025. It brings the total number of graduates to 527.

Hayley Tanga (Ngā Puhi) a teacher in the billingual classroom at Paraparaumu School said that, before the 16-week course, she could only speak very basic te reo Māori.

"When I first started, I probably wasn't as confident as I am today but the teachers have been really patient and really engaging, and just really supportive and the other teachers that have been on the course as well, we're all in the same waka and we're all on the same journey."

"I was actually a bit emotional today, singing in the kapa haka and being part of the pōwhiri... growing up, I didn't have much te reo Māori in my life, so I am really on a mission for me - and because I have babies now - to make sure that they learn te reo and that we keep te reo alive."

She has twice tried to learn te reo Māori, at high school and university, but both times found that she didn't end up using the language enough.

But earlier this year, she resigned from her mainstream job of 10 years to take up a role teaching in a billingual classroom.

"I can sit down now and have a conversation with my friends, I can send an email or a text, I can sit with the pūkenga at kai time or whenever and have a bit of a chat with them... and I feel confident in my classroom now working with my children."

"In the the classroom I can flip between English and Māori when I need to, we have karakia, pepeha and waiata everyday, I was able to do the karakia here for lunch the other day... I couldn't have done that [before] there's no way."

Ms Tanga hopes that the programme is funded nationwide next year, "because it is gold, it's tāonga".

Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said the government would undergo an evaluation of the programme.

"We've received wonderful feedback about the programme, but it makes sense to take stock of the work that's done - I'm hugely encouraged at this stage but the programmes will be reviewed in the coming months and decisions will be made about the future implementation in the new year."