Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Maori Language Week 2016: Te reo students learn through doing

Years 5 and 6 students Joseph Peri, Montygau Thompson and Tukiwaho Popata limber up for their Mauri Oho language learning with tumuaki (principal) Ripeka Lessels. Photo / Alick Saunders/Education Aotearoa
Years 5 and 6 students Joseph Peri, Montygau Thompson and Tukiwaho Popata limber up for their Mauri Oho language learning with tumuaki (principal) Ripeka Lessels. Photo / Alick Saunders/Education Aotearoa

A new computer-based Māori-language learning program is achieving extraordinary results by giving students practical exercises such as designing a BMX bike track.

The program, Mauri Oho, recognises that children have "multiple intelligences" - not just academic intelligence for reading and writing, but practical intelligences such as movement-based sports and music or designing and making things.

"So if a child is highly kinesthetic [learning by physical activities], then all of the learning on those devices will be kinesthetic," says Ripeka Lessels, tumuaki (principal) of Te Whata Tau o Putauaki, a decile 1 Māori-immersion school in New Zealand's poorest town, Kawerau.

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"One child had difficulty with maths, just did not enjoy maths, but enjoyed riding a bike, so his task was to plan and design a bike track that he would enjoy riding on," she says.

"We are fortunate to have Sarah Walker in this town, an Olympic BMX cyclist, she has a BMX track here. This child had to design a bike track using what he knew about BMX. It actually used a whole lot of maths."

In another example, a Year 6 girl with severely delayed written and spoken language loved "being the boss". Her task was to create a PowerPoint presentation about her family which involved taking and uploading photos and videos.

"She became the teacher of how to do that stuff with other children," Mrs Lessels says. "I watched those children just sit at her feet through what she was doing on those digital devices because she was doing something she loved to do. It was amazing."

The program is among what is still a handful of learning programs using te reo Māori. It is largely funded by the Education Ministry and was developed by Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust in Ngāruawāhia.

"'Mauri' is the essence of something, 'oho' means to awaken. So it's making sure that the intrinsic essence of every learner is awakened and kept alive and well," says trust founder Cath Rau.

"You do an individual conference with the student to find out what their strengths are. That involves talking to the whānau as well. Then the teacher can put this information into this online program, and identify which learning areas the student needs support with, and the program will come up with a default task with some recommendations for some apps."

Ripeka Lessels, Principal of Te Whata Tau o Putauaki a composite (years 1-15) school in Kawerau. Photo / Alick Saunders/Education Aotearoa
Ripeka Lessels, Principal of Te Whata Tau o Putauaki a composite (years 1-15) school in Kawerau. Photo / Alick Saunders/Education Aotearoa

The trust also runs a programme with breathing exercises to get students into a calm frame of mind before learning.

The program was trialled with 10 students in each of six schools including the Kawerau kura in 2014 and is now in about 10 schools.

Te Whata Tau o Putauaki has adopted it for all of its 120 students.

The program is free, but Mrs Lessels used her regular school funding to buy or lease iPads or MacBooks for all her students and staff.

Translation

E whai hua kē ana tētahi hōtaka hou, ako reo Māori ā-rorohiko, mā te tuku mahi whai take tonu ki ngā ākonga pēnei i te mahi hoahoa ara eke paihikara BMX.

Ko Mauri Oho te hōtaka nei e aro ana ki ngā "pūkenga maha" o te tamaiti - ehara ko te mōhio noa iho ki te pānui me te tuhituhi, engari ia ko te pūkenga whai take tonu pēnei i te korikori tinana mō te tākaro me te waiata koia rānei ko te mahi hoahoa me te waihanga.

"Ina ia he tamaiti akoako ā-tinana kē [mā te mahi ā-tinana rā anō] ka whai ake ko ngā akoako katoa o aua mihini rā he mahi ā-tinana kē," e ai ki a Ripeka Lessels te Tumuaki o Te Whata Tau o Pūtauākī, he kura rūmaki reo Māori taumata whai rawa 1 kei Kawerau kei te taone pōhara rawa o Aotearoa.

"Tērā tonu tētahi tamaiti he uaua ki a ia te mahi pāngarau, kāore noa i tau ki a ia tēnei mea te pāngarau, engari anō te eke paihikara, nā reira ka hoatu māna tonu e hoahoa he ara eke paihikara e pai ana ki a ia," hei tāna. "He waimarie mātou ko Sarah Walker kei tēnei taone, he kaieke paihikara BMX Ōrimipia, kei konei anō tētahi o ana ara BMX. Nā ko tā taua tamaiti rā he hoahoa ara paihikara i runga i tana mōhio ki te BMX. Ka mutu he maha kē hoki ngā mahi pāngarau o roto."

Ko tētahi atu nā he kōtiro tau 6 e tino tōmuri kē nei te putanga mai o tana reo tuhituhi me tana reo kōrero engari ka rawe kē ki a ia te mahi "hei pahi". Ko te mahi māna he waihanga whakaaturanga PowerPoint mō tōna whānau ka huri ai ia ki te whakaahua haere ka tuku ake ai i ngā whakaahua me ngā whakaata irirangi ki runga rorohiko.

"Nāwai rā ko ia tonu hei kaiako mō aua mahi rā ki ētahi ake tamariki," e ai ki a Mrs Lessels. "Ka mātaki au i te tamariki e mīharo kau ana ki a ia i tana whakamahinga i aua taputapu rorohiko rā ina ia tōna rawe ki tāna e mahi mai ana. He mīharo kē."

Ko te hōtaka nei tētahi o ngā hōtaka akoako torutoru noa iho e whakamahi ana i te reo Māori. Ko te nuinga o ngā pūtea tautoko nā te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, ā, he mea whakawhanake nā Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust i Ngāruawāhia.

"Ko te 'Mauri' ko te tino o tētahi mea, ko te 'oho' kua mutu te moe. Nā reira koia tērā ko te whakaoho i te mauri akoako o tēnā o tēnā ākonga kia mauriora anō ai," e ai ki te kaiwhakatū tarahīti nei Cath Rau.

"Ka hui tahi koe ki te ākonga ki te hura i ōna pūkenga. Kei roto i tērā mahi ko te kōrero hoki ki te whānau. Kātahi te kaiako ka rau atu i aua kōrero ki roto i tēnei hōtaka ipurangi, ka arotake ai ko ēhea mahi akoako a te ākonga hei tautoko tonu, kātahi nā te hōtaka ka whakaputa aunoa i tētahi mahinga me ngā tūtohu mō ētahi whakamahinga rorohiko.

Tērā anō hoki te hōtaka a te tarahīti nei mō te aro ki te hā tonu o te ākonga e tau kē ai tōna hinengaro hei mua mai i te mahi akoako.

Ka whakamātauria te hōtaka nei e ngā ākonga 10 o ia kura e ono tae noa ki te kura i Kawerau i te tau 2014, ā, kei ngā kura 10 kē rā ināianei. Kei te whakamahia hoki e Te Whata Tau o Pūtauākī ināianei mō te katoa kē o ana ākonga 120.

Kāore he utu mō te hōtaka nei, engari nā Mrs Lessels tāna ake pūtea kura o ia rā i whakamahi hei rīhi i ngā īPapa me ngā PukaMeke mā ana ākonga me ana kaiako katoa.

●Te Reo Māori translation service supported by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. Translation by Te Tumatakuru O'Connell.

- NZ Herald

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