Haere mai Akiko, wel­come to te reo

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

US­ING te reo in the com­mu­nity is not only this year’s theme for Maori Lan­guage Week, it’s a life-long as­pi­ra­tion for Akiko Maruno who says “prac­tice makes per­fect”.

As a Ja­panese lan­guage teacher at Kaipara Col­lege, the op­por­tu­nity to be­come a home room teacher in the school’s whanau class prompted her to learn Maori.

In Fe­bru­ary she en­rolled in Unitec’s free evening classes and has pro­gressed con­fi­dently on to level two.

“When I be­came a whanau class teacher, I was des­per­ate to pick up some reo. Now I feel it is cru­cial and sig­nif­i­cant for me to learn, so I can com­mu­ni­cate more in an ef­fec­tive way to my stu­dents,” she says.

“It’s good to make my­self un­der­stood and it’s opened dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives for me. It’s not like any­thing I’ve learned be­fore.”

The Blockhouse Bay res­i­dent, who fell in love with New Zealand as a vis­it­ing school­girl from Kurashikia Ja­pan, has also adopted some of her Unitec tu­tors’ teach­ing meth­ods for use in her own class.

“It’s won­der­ful. I can take my class­room study and put it into prac­tice straight away. From a stu­dent’s per­spec­tive it’s shown me how, as a teacher, I can as­sist my Ja­panese lan­guage classes as well.”

Kaipara Col­lege deputy prin­ci­pal Bruce Green­brook says Ms Maruno is al­ways learn­ing as much as she can about the Maori lan­guage to ful­fil her new roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“Whaea Akiko has fit­ted in re­ally well. Like all things she gets in­volved in, she takes it very se­ri­ously.”

Min­istry of Maori De­vel­op­ment statis­tics from 2006 show that Ms Maruno is part of just 1 per­cent of nonMaori in New Zealand who have con­ver­sa­tional abil­i­ties in te reo Maori.

Less than 3 per­cent of Auck­land’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion, com­pris­ing of 27,900 Maori and 6,390 non-Maori, are pro­fi­cient speak­ers.

Maori Lan­guage Com­mis­sioner Erima Henare says Auck­land has the sec­ond low­est rate of all re­gions, with al­most 20 per­cent of Auck­land’s Maori pop­u­la­tion able to con­verse in te reo.

“Th­ese are sober­ing statis­tics. Auck­land has the high­est pop­u­la­tion of Maori, so one would ex­pect that higher num­bers would mean a higher per­cent­age rate, if not the high­est per­cent­age rate of the re­gions,” he says.

“It only fur­ther high­lights what’s hap­pen­ing na­tion­ally, that there are far too few pro­fi­cient speak­ers.”

Mr Henare en­cour­ages ev­ery­body to cel­e­brate and pro­mote te reo use everyday as com­pla­cency is the big­gest en­emy to the lan­guage’s re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion, he says.

“We’ve re­cently be­gun a re­search project in Auck­land to in­ves­ti­gate more clearly what kind of lan­guage ini­tia­tives and en­vi­ron­ments work in an ur­ban set­ting to cre­ate speak­ers.”

Maori lan­guage week runs un­til Satur­day.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.ko­reromaori. co.nz

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Korero Maori: Ja­panese teacher Akiko Maruno is study­ing sec­ond-level te reo Maori at Unitec as part of her own pro­fes­sional and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment.

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