Children immerse themselves in Maori
When you walk into the grounds of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Maungarongo, you must be careful not to talk too loudly in English.
Students at the Sandringham school spend their days totally immersed in Maori and the use of any other languages is kept to a minimum.
The 100 pupils learn the same subjects as mainstream schools, but put them into a Maori context.
And the results are speaking for themselves.
The joint primary and intermediate school recently celebrated its 20th anniversary surrounded by current and past pupils and staff.
Many past pupils have also gone on to success in NCEA, tertiary education and the work force.
Principal Dianne Pomare says being bilingual has many benefits.
“We prepare them for the big wide world,” she says.
“Our students become bilingual in the true sense of the word and fully speak both languages.”
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Maungarongo first began in the grounds of the old teacher’s training college in Mt Eden in 1988.
It then moved to its current location on Haverstock Rd in Sandringham in 1998.
It was the first full Maori immersion school to be recognised as a state school in New Zealand and is the only one in central Auckland.
Lessons are held in te reo and focus on traditional subjects such as language, mathematics, technology and social studies.
Ms Pomare says the school aims to teach Maori knowledge and customs and cover all curriculum subjects from a Maori perspective.
Families are also required to help out by teaching children in Maori at home.
“We want it to be living learning,” she says. “It’s not just dropping them off at the gate and picking them up, we are on the same philosophy both in home and at school.”
She says being immersed in Maori is beneficial for children’s overall language skills.
“Some parents worry but the fact is they are hearing English all the time in every- day life and they are not going to forget it,” Ms Pomare says.
“We usually find the children who do very well in Maori also do well in English.”
Past teacher Potiki Smith started her career at the kura kaupapa when it opened in 1989.
Her sons now attend and she is actively involved in the school community.
She says it is a wonderful place for children to learn the traditions and treasures of their culture. “I really believe in this school and it’s a beautiful place,” she says.
“I’m so happy it’s lasted this long and I hope it will continue for another one hundred years or more.”
Total immersion: Elijah Henry, left, and Nia Cherrington-Thomas work with principal Dianne Pomare of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Maungarongo in Sandringham. The school recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.