The SPCA is providing children with free books that have been translated into te reo Māori.
Schools receiving these books include full Māori immersion schools and also educational institutes or classes where at least 51 per cent of Māori are taught.
The SPCA’s Education Programme aims to nurture young hearts and minds around the country, working with children as a vital step in achieving the long-term vision of preventing animal cruelty in New Zealand.
Since 2016, the national charity has been releasing a series of storybooks using engaging, real-world animal stories to not only help children improve reading skills, but to take on key lessons about care and responsibility when it comes to all animals.
Throughout April 2023, the national charity distributed 21,960 copies of their latest series of readers in te reo Māori free of charge to 305 Māori medium settings. Together with accompanying teaching resources, the books are enabling even more children to engage with these important animal welfare lessons.
From a story about caring for a classroom’s lonely goldfish called Rupert, to a young surfer saving a gannet tangled in a fishing line, to the negative impacts of fireworks on animals; these books are filled with adventure and education for children on caring for New Zealand’s animals. They also aim to increase reading mileage, by supporting the development of their reading skills and strategies.
SPCA education manager Nicole Peddie says when the books are used alongside the English editions of each reader, the te reo Māori editions have the added value of supporting learning of additional languages and nurturing first languages.
“It wasn’t just about translating the words in our readers for tamariki,” Peddie says, “but crafting the texts and supporting resources for Māori medium education settings. We engaged experts to advise and undertake this work, to ensure these valuable resources would connect with and meet the needs of our Māori learners.”
Based on real SPCA stories, the books have been produced by renowned education publishers Sunshine Books to align with the New Zealand curriculum and support the development of children’s reading and language skills. Previous series are available to all primary and intermediate schools across Aotearoa.
“Our education programme is evidence-based and innovatively designed with the aim of breaking the cycle of cruelty towards animals throughout New Zealand,” Peddie says. “Each year, we see thousands and thousands of animal welfare complaints coming to SPCA. The level of neglect and abuse we see towards animals in New Zealand is heartbreaking and we believe that teaching animal care and welfare at a young age is vital to changing this.
“So, it is important we make storybooks as accessible as we can for all children, and we’re really pleased they’re now available to be incorporated into the Māori medium education settings throughout Aotearoa.”
The first collection of SPCA storybooks was released in August 2016 and featured six real-life SPCA companion animals rescue stories. The second collection, which featured six farm animal rescue stories, launched in October 2017. Translations of these series took place in 2018 in four different languages including te reo Māori, gagana Sāmoa, lea faka-Tonga and Mandarin Chinese.