Staff from five Whanganui schools have been on the other side of the classroom participating in a Ministry of Education programme to boost te reo Māori in schools.
The staff from Whanganui Intermediate School (WIS), Arahunga School, St Mary’s School, Kaitoke School and Mosston School were taking part in the first level of Te Ahu o te Reo Māori.
The nationwide programme was launched by the ministry with the intention of encouraging the education workforce to grow their confidence in using te reo and integrating it into learning with ākonga (scholars) and students.
The programme was being provided in Taranaki, Manawatū, and Whanganui by Te Ataarangi ki te Kāhui Maunga and was first brought to the city in 2022.
Programme manager Sandra Whaanga said the first stage of the programme had been taught across two separate two-day intensive total immersion seminars, with all of WIS’ staff taking part.
“The programme... [is] upskilling the reo capacity of everybody of this school who’s involved with the children in any way,” Whaanga said.
“From the time we begin the learning component, it is all total immersion, so we have a beginning, [an] hour and a half total immersion and then we’re out again and we’re back into bilingual.”
Māori-developed teaching techniques were also used during the programme, like the use of multi-coloured rākau to teach the language.
Level one of the four Te Ataarangi delivered was focused on the basics of the language and teaching phrases staff would be able to use in everyday communications.
“Learning that they can use in their classrooms, in their workspaces, at homes, in their different communities out of school, so everyday language but certainly a big focus on the classroom,” she said.
Regional liaison Piripi Blake said teaching this to school staff was done with the intention of implementing te reo into whole communities.
“We’re here in schools but we want to create communities of language speakers, of te reo speakers, that’s one of our key goals.”
The work with school staff would bring the language into the classroom, which would then be picked up by students and later the parents to disseminate it further into communities.
“The whole idea for Te Ataarangi is to ensure that we generate and develop communities of te reo Māori speakers across the nation and in fact across the world,” he said.
It was also being undertaken to fulfil poutama reo, a framework from the Education Review Office providing a pathway for English medium schools to review and improve their use of te reo.
Whaanga said the staff had been taking to the programme well and it was particularly good all of the staff were involved.
“From the feedback that we see they love it, they enjoy it, we’re all at different levels of our learning so one of the great things about the school is that they’re all here to support each other.”
With the staff having completed level one, she said they would move up to the next level where what they’ve already learned would be consolidated and built on.
More schools will be starting the programme in July this year and Blake implored any schools interested in the programme to get in touch as their contract with the ministry runs until 2024.
“[The programme] may come on again but it won’t come on the way it works now, it will be a different contract and that will be different for our schools,” he said.
“Lots of schools are still coming on and we’d like to encourage... all of our other schools and boards to come on.”