Before Ange Withers' children were born she knew te reo Maori would be their first language.

As a Maori woman, she believes being fluent in te reo is more than being able to speak in her native tongue - it also ensures a person has a sense of identity and belonging.

This was one of the reasons she and her children's father, Quinton Bidois, had no hesitation about giving their children a full immersion te reo education.

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It's all their children, Te Ahikaa Bidois, 13, and Kaiaia Bidois, 7, have known.

"It was just the way it was going to be," Ms Withers said.

Both children started out at kohanga reo before beginning their primary school years at Te Kura o Matapihi. Te Ahikaa has since moved on to Te Wharekura o Mauao.

Ms Withers said some of her close friends questioned whether her kids should be educated in the traditional mainstream system but it was never an option for her family.

"For me, it was all natural ... I never had any concerns whatsoever," she said.

She said a full immersion education ensured students understood their culture and values and knowing her children knew who they were and where they were from would mean they could "stand anywhere in this world".

Her children have never suffered, but have thrived in many areas.

Kaiaia, although very young, is driven by a desire to succeed and Te Ahikaa has been a top academic achiever, a kapa haka leader, won multiple awards and is a New Zealand basketball representative.

"To date, it hasn't affected their growth."

Ms Withers grew up with her grandparents who were both fluent in te reo Maori.

She went to mainstream school but, at home, te reo was her first language, which meant adapting to both worlds. This is something Te Ahikaa has picked up too.

When Te Ahikaa was 9 she began teaching herself English after struggling to find information she was researching on the internet.

"She started thirsting for te reo Pakeha."

She has succeeded in that too, even competing in mainstream speech competitions in English.

Throughout the children's te reo education, Ms Withers says the highlight has been being able to be part of it, having taught at Te Kura o Matapihi and now at Te Wharekura o Mauao.

"Not many parents can say they go to school with their kids. It's been the best journey.

"The journey she's taken to date I've been a part of as a mum but also as a teacher. I think I'm the lucky one."

For Ms Withers and her family, Te Wiki o te reo Maori (Maori Language Week) is every week, but she enjoys being able to celebrate her language with the nation.

"I think it's great because it's the one week that the whole motu gets on board. This is a stepping stone, and I'm all about stepping stones."

Ange Withers' favourite Maori sayings;
Ma te mōhio, ka marama, ma te marama ka kōrero, ma te kōrero ka ora ai tō tātou reo. Through knowing, you understand, through understanding, you converse, through conversing our reo will survive.
Patua te whakamā. Don't be shy.
Wepua! You can do it!
Ehara taku toa he toa takitahi, engari taku toa he toa takitini. My achievements are not of my own, but of everybody who has supported me.