The Hawke's Bay Fire Region is contributing to Māori Language week by conducting a bilingual safety programme in schools, aimed at coaching students about making good decisions concerning health and safety.

Hastings' senior firefighter Allan Brown said the Te Kotuku Bilingual Risk Reduction Programme is a local Hawke's Bay initiative between fire and emergency services and police. It was launched six years ago.

It features a range of books and videos in te reo Māori and English covering topics such as road safety, wearing seatbelts and cooking in the kitchen.

Brown said the programme was currently running in Hastings Girls' High (HGH) and Maraenui Bilingual School.

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"HGH is doing the programme to develop their te reo Māori skills. They took the audio visual books to Frimley School and it was a great to see them embracing the tuakana teina relationship."

One of the examples of the audio/visual tools used by the Te Kotuku Bilingual Risk reduction programme which can be accessed using a QR code. Photo / Duncan Brown
One of the examples of the audio/visual tools used by the Te Kotuku Bilingual Risk reduction programme which can be accessed using a QR code. Photo / Duncan Brown

Tuakana/teina refers to the relationship between an older (tuakana) person and a younger (teina) person and is specific to teaching and learning in the Māori context.

"Bilingual books also support the values of the schools such as being kind to one another showing care and being accountable for your actions.

"The programme not only supports the reduction of physical injuries but also the prevention of mental harm caused either through bullying over the internet, Facebook or text messages via cellphones," Brown said.

"Making good decisions is a complex process which will dictate the pathways their life will take."

The programme previously ran in Mangateretere School, Te Aratika Charter School, Flaxmere Primary School and Peterhead School.

"The participation level has increased and there is a need for books of this nature.

Hastings senior firefighter Allan Brown wants to help children and youth by spearheading a bilingual programme which highlights the importance of safety. Photo / Duncan Brown
Hastings senior firefighter Allan Brown wants to help children and youth by spearheading a bilingual programme which highlights the importance of safety. Photo / Duncan Brown

"We coach them [the students] about consequences of the decisions they make regarding health and safety."

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Brown has written a series of 12 bilingual books, which are supported by audio (a CD of radio stories and waiata), and kinaesthetic resources to deliver a range of safety messages to primary school children, raising awareness and helping them to develop self-care skills.

QR (Quick Response) codes allow children to access the stories on YouTube via any mobile or electronic device.