Around 60 teachers and principals gathered at Tawhero School on Sunday, beginning a 12-week course designed to immerse them in te reo Māori.
The programme, dubbed Te Ahu o te Reo Māori, is designed to give teachers a greater understanding of the reo (language) to return to their classrooms immersing students in the knowledge they've developed.
The programme, which translates to "the future pathway of te reo Māori' is a government initiative - the result of He Puna Whakaaro, a working group report commissioned to paint a clearer picture of Māori success in mainstream education.
Sunday's session was the first in the region. Teachers and principals travel from as far as three hours away, for a pōwhiri and an introductory session - a significant amount fully in te reo.
Deleraine Puhara, Pou Tataki at Te Ataarangi ki te Kāhui Maunga - a community organisation teaching te reo Māori - said that the ropū (group) has received a three-year contract to run the programme in the region, offering two programmes a year.
"We're very keen to get alongside teachers, that are working in mainstream kura (school) who have had very little exposure to the language. That's primarily the teachers who are here today," Puhara said.
"These teachers are not only here on a Sunday, they've made a commitment to make a change in their classroom and school environment. If they're using it and speaking it, others are going to do similar."
Karleen Marshall, principal at Tawhero School, says that being part of the programme
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"I just think it's revolutionary. There are more tamariki Māori (Māori children) in mainstream than there are in kura kaupapa Māori, and we need to start to address some of these issues," Marshall said.
"Giving tamariki Māori and all kids access to the first language of New Zealand is incredibly valuable. This is a pathway, and this is the grassroots."
The course moves to a marae near Marton on Monday, before shifting to Taranaki later in the week.