Māori language is becoming part of mainstream Kiwi schooling, with almost a third of primary school students now learning in te reo for at least three hours a week.
A new Ministry of Education report shows that the numbers learning in te reo for at least three hours have jumped from 125,000 in 2010 to 171,000 last year, or from 26 per cent to 32 per cent of all primary school children.
Even Bayswater School, a mainly Pākehā decile-10 school on Auckland's North Shore, has moved all of its 191 children from "Taha Māori" level - a few words, greetings and songs - four years ago to all learning in te reo at least three hours a week.
"In the morning we have a class paepae [oratory]," says Years 3 and 4 teacher Allison Butcher.
"I will ask one of the children to lead karakia, a beginning-of-the-day prayer.
"Then we do the roll. We ask, 'Kei te pēhea koe?' ['How are you?] The children have a range of responses to that. If someone is feeling pōuri [sad] or whakamā [ashamed or shy], we know who to take care of that day.
"Then one or two of the children will do a mihi [greeting], a pepeha [personal introduction], then we do a waiata [song] in response. Then our academic day starts."
All the teachers have completed or are doing courses at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and intersperse English and te reo Māori through their teaching.
Morning tea and lunchtime start with senior students saying a karakia mō te kai [blessing of food] over the intercom. Students in each class stand up when they hear it and say their own karakia.
Another karakia ends the day.
Principal Lindsay Child says the changes stem from a community consultation four years ago in which parents "very strongly indicated that they would like more te reo Māori in our school".
Unusually for a North Shore school, 28 per cent of Bayswater's children are Māori and some come to school from Māori-speaking kōhanga reo.
"We really felt we were not progressing those children and making it [te reo] available to all children," Child says.
Her first step was to bring in Te Reo Tuatahi, a local trust which sends a teacher in one day a week to provide language lessons.
"But that didn't lift the level of te reo Māori very much. One lesson once a week isn't adequate," she says.
A bigger breakthrough came when a parent took over the school's kapa haka group and the teachers started learning te reo themselves. Child moved kapa haka practices into class time, giving it "high status" in the school, so all Years 1-2 children now take part and a majority of the older children choose to participate.
"During that time, the children who don't go to kapa haka are also learning their pepeha and waiata," she says.
All NZ teachers are now required by the Teaching Council's teaching standards to "practise and develop the use of te reo and tikanga Māori", and teacher training programmes must "monitor and support competency in te reo Māori".
Child says many school principals, when they attest that their teachers are following the required standards, "just paid lip service" to those requirements.
"We have made that a true part of what we do and teach," she says. "Every year our teachers do reflect on how they have improved in their own understanding of those areas, and set themselves goals to improve further each year."
Anaru Morgan, a former Kihikihi School principal who supports Bayswater's progress through the Principals' Federation's Māori Achievement Collaborative, says the aim is to "normalise" te reo in everyday interactions.
"The problem with the old way of doing it in lessons is that a lot of Māori and Pākehā kids are going to get to Year 6, say, and say, 'Oh, this sucks, it's boring,'" he says.
"The kids were learning about colours and basic numbers in Year 1 and the teachers were teaching the same things [in every subsequent year]. That was not developing the everyday motivated use of language."
Some other schools are more advanced than Bayswater. The old Papakura South School, where 86 per cent of students are Māori, changed its name in 2013 to Kereru Park Campus and plans to apply in September to become a "kura-a-iwi" with secondary as well as primary classes.
"We have about 60 tamariki in our level 1 full immersion class and 150 at level 3 [on the Māori language scale], which means 30 to 50 per cent of the school day is in Māori," says principal George Ihimaera.
"We started with pāngarau [maths]. They learnt the kupu [words] of the different areas within that.
"When we moved into literacy, where they were giving more of their own ideas and sharing more of their own experiences, that was a bit more in depth."
Ihimaera says many newer principals are following the same path, although the proportion of all primary school children learning in Māori at least half the time has crept up much more slowly, from 2.9 per cent of students in 2010 to 3.4 per cent last year.
"I see these young principals starting to fill the gaps," he says. "It does fill me with optimism that there is a new wave of principals coming through that really want to buy into the whole kaupapa [programme] of delivering an effective Māori kaupapa for our tamariki."
Māori education by numbers
Māori students in Māori-language schools are now slightly more likely than all Kiwi students to leave school with University Entrance (UE) or level 3 of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).
The Ministry of Education's update on Māori in education shows that the proportion of students in Maori-medium schools leaving with level 3 or UE has leapt from 35 per cent in 2009 to 59 per cent in 2018.
The national average for the same qualifications also rose over the period, but only from 42 per cent to 54 per cent.
Māori students in mainstream English-language schools achieving the same qualifications jumped from 19 per cent to 35 per cent, slightly narrowing the gap between Māori and the national average, but still remaining well behind.
Other data in the report hint at why Māori students are still lagging in English-language schools, which 93 per cent of Māori school-leavers attended in 2018.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) has recorded a steady decline in the proportion of Kiwi 15-year-olds who agree that, "I feel like I belong at school" - from 87 per cent in 2006 to just 68 per cent in 2018.
Māori 15-year-olds who feel that they belong at school have dropped even more - from 87 per cent to 63 per cent.
In the latest Pisa survey, 18 per cent of Māori but only 13 per cent of all Kiwi 15-year-olds said "other students spread nasty rumours about me". Only 76 per cent of Māori "feel safe at school", compared with 80 per cent of all students.
Teachers are overwhelmingly Pākehā. Māori have increased from 9 per cent of all state and integrated school teachers in 2010 to 12 per cent last year, but 73 per cent are still European, 5 per cent are Asian, 4 per cent are Pasifika and 11 per cent won't say. (Some teachers belong to two or more ethnic groups).
For comparison, Māori students increased from 23 per cent of all domestic students in 2010 to 25 per cent last year. Only 49 per cent of students are now European, 14 per cent are Asian and 10 per cent are Pasifika.