Te reo plan firmly backed

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

A PRI­MARY school prin­ci­pal ‘‘ab­so­lutely sup­ports’’ a plan to make te reo com­pul­sory in all Auck­land schools.

The Maori Statu­tory Board re­leased a re­port at the week­end that sug­gests a raft of changes in­clud­ing mak­ing Maori lan­guage learn­ing com­pul­sory in all Auck­land schools.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in the board-com­mis­sioned au­dit of Auck­land Coun­cil in­clude an in­ter­na­tional Maori fes­ti­val and a perma- nent sculp­ture park.

The $30 mil­lion-a-year plan is in­tended to guide the coun­cil to meet its obli­ga­tions to Maori, board chair­man David Taipari says.

He says the rec­om­men­da­tion to make Maori manda­tory in all schools came from feed­back from the wider Maori community.

New­ton Cen­tral Pri­mary prin­ci­pal Hoana Pear­son says it is ‘‘nor­mal to hear te reo Maori spo­ken in ev­ery cor­ner’’ of the school.

‘‘Our chil­dren learn about the his­tory of the coun­try from both per­spec­tives, and they can take that knowl­edge into the fu­ture and be­come ad­vo­cates for diver­sity,’’ she says.

Fo­cus on te reo has grown sub­stan­tially since Ms Pear­son joined the school in 1994 to start a Maori Medium Path­ways pro­gramme, ini­tially teach­ing 12 chil­dren.

New­ton Cen­tral now has more than 90 chil­dren in Maori im­mer­sion and bilin­gual units, which run along­side main­stream classes.

Ms Pear­son sup­ports the ‘‘nor­mal­i­sa­tion of te reo Maori in our ev­ery­day lives’’, and the school is sign­posted in both Maori and English.

‘‘There is Maori Lan­guage Week but my ques­tion is ‘Why can’t it be ev­ery day?’. For me ev­ery day is Maori Lan­guage Day.’’

Ms Pear­son says the board’s rec­om­men­da­tion is a great idea that would help en­rich chil­dren world­view.

‘‘It would ac­knowl­edge many of the chil­dren in schools in Auck­land are Maori, and they have a lan- guage and es­poused in that lan­guage is a cul­ture,’’ she says. ‘‘It would help val­i­date Maori peo­ple, and it would help non-Maori un­der­stand the cul­ture.’’

New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tute pres­i­dent Ian Leckie says that while the in­sti­tute strongly sup­ports the plan, it would need to be backed by more train­ing for teach­ers in te reo.

‘‘Most schools do their best to teach te reo but many are of­ten lim­ited by a lack of trained te reo teach­ers,’’ Mr Leckie says.

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