Chil­dren im­merse them­selves in Maori

Central Leader - - News - By Lisa Sloan

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.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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