A $2.8 million commitment to Māori education was welcomed during a Government announcement by Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis in Kerikeri yesterday. Davis officially launched the programme, called Te Kawa Matakura, which aims to grow future young Māori leaders through mātauranga [knowledge] and te reo Māori.
The three-year kaupapa is based on traditional models of education where students will learn knowledge and tikanga including mōteatea, hītori Māori, whaikōrero, karanga, navigation, weaving and whakapapa.
Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, Education Minister Chris Hipkins, Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa and Labour MP Willow-Jean Prime were also at the launch at Rewa's Village.
Davis, who is also the MP for Te Tai Tokerau, said the programme was the "realisation of the moemoeā of many Māori for a long time".
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"Students will realise an in-depth level of mātauranga Māori, a high level of te reo Māori and strong leadership skills," he said.
"This is going to benefit their marae, iwi, communities, their own future opportunities - and all of New Zealand."
This year 23 students between the ages of 17 and 25 have been confirmed to participate in the programme, known as Tauranga Kōtuku Rerenga Tahi for its delivery in Te Tai Tokerau.
They will be supported by their whānau, marae and their kaumātua.
To participate, students must be endorsed by iwi leaders and whānau.
They must also meet a range of other criteria including being proficient in te reo Maori, knowledgeable in whakataukī, pepeha, marae and hapū of Te Taitokerau, have a strong desire to learn mātauranga Māori and demonstrate leadership qualities.
Students who complete the course will receive a Level 5 New Zealand Diploma in Mātaranga ā-Iwi and have a chance to progress towards a degree programme.
Davis said mātauranga Māori needs to be part of our system and resourced properly.
"Things taught at school are not necessarily things Māori value as mātauranga.
"As a result, over successive generations they've been lost. It's every Māori child's right to know this information, it's not a privilege. It should be natural and normal to us to grow up knowing these things."
The Government has allocated $2.8 million for the programme which Davis first announced at NorthTec's Te Puna o te Mātauranga Marae last April.
Tihi Puanaki, who is originally from Matawaia in the Far North, said it was "wonderful to see that young people are passionate about te reo Māori and taking the lead".