Te reo plan firmly backed
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.