MLW

Every week is Māori Language Week at Tauranga Primary School - the entire school embraces te reo Māori in a bid to normalise the language.

To mark the beginning of Māori Language Week the school took part in the Māori Language Commission's Māori language Moment event, which aimed to see one million people all across New Zealand speaking, singing and celebrating te reo at the same time.

During a visit to the Tauranga school on Monday students were engaged in a raft of activities including a group designing their own kowhaiwhai creations as part of the event.

The students and staff were among the total of 1,023,781 people who were signed up to collectively celebrate New Zealand's native language.

Advertisement

The commission's chairwoman, Professor Rawinia Higgins, said to safeguard te reo the goal was to see one million Māori language speakers by 2040.

"But we want to start in 2020, even if only for a moment," Higgins said.

"Te reo Māori is the language of New Zealand. But it still needs New Zealanders to keep it safe."

Tauranga Primary School teacher Nick Adams, of Te Aupouri and Te Atiawa iwi, agreed.

He said the school took part in the nationwide movement to support efforts to get more people embracing te reo Māori.

Tauranga Primary School teacher Nick Adams teaching students how to make their own kowhaiwhai design in te Reo. Photo / George Novak.
Tauranga Primary School teacher Nick Adams teaching students how to make their own kowhaiwhai design in te Reo. Photo / George Novak.

Adams said it was something the school had been working on for several years.

"Our goal is to normalise the use of te reo so it becomes part of our everyday usage, not just by our students and teachers but also our admin staff and visitors.

Adams said te reo was regularly used at the school, the way the school community meets and greets and communicates with each other, and in how the school follows tikanga Māori protocols.

Advertisement

"Learning the correct pronunciation of place names, especially Tauranga and our local iwi, is important, and it's a great place for people to start to learn te reo."

Adams said embracing te reo Māori was an important kaupapa for the school and equipping every student with the ability to speak the language was the ultimate goal.

"It is really cool to see our students and teachers who were once unfamiliar with te reo now feeling far more confident about speaking Māori in the classroom and around the school."

Adams said all teaching staff were also learning about tikanga Māori protocols at a local wananga so they could share their knowledge with the rest of the school.

The last Education Review Office report said 17 per cent of the students at Tauranga Primary were Māori and 57 per cent were NZ European/Pākehā.

Tauranga Primary School student Curtis Brott, 10, shares his pepeha at the school Māori Language Week celebrations.

Among them were Year 6 students Ty McPherson, 11, and Curtis Brott, 10, who introduced themselves to the Bay of Plenty Times in te reo, reciting their pepeha.

Advertisement

A pepeha is a way to tell people who you are by sharing your connections with the people and places that are important to you.

Curtis, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Porou iwi, said he felt proud to be asked to share his pepeha.

Tauranga Primary students Curtis Brott, 10, (left) and Ty McPherson, 11, with their kowhaiwhai designs. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga Primary students Curtis Brott, 10, (left) and Ty McPherson, 11, with their kowhaiwhai designs. Photo / George Novak

"I have grown up learning Māori and I'm really proud of my Māori culture and being able to speak te reo is very important to me," Curtis said.

"I'm also proud that our school is incorporating te reo not just in our classroom lessons but all around the school. It definitely makes coming to school enjoyable."

Ty, from Ngāti Ranginui and Te Arawa, said he was a "little" bit nervous to recite his pepeha at first but really enjoyed it, and felt proud because it was about his family and his cultural roots.