Sit­ting NCEA Maori exam at 12

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

In a Ti­tahi Bay school li­brary six stu­dents are busy study­ing for an NCEA exam they will be sit­ting later this year.

The small group could be any class at any col­lege get­ting ready for a big test, ex­cept these pupils are 12 years old.

The kids are tak­ing NCEA level one Maori this year and prin­ci­pal Colin Tarr said they had a tough act to fol­low.

‘‘Last year the stu­dents passed with ex­cel­lence and en­dorse­ments.’’

Tarr said the school had al­ways lead the way in te reo.

Maori Lan­guage Week, cel­e­brated this week, is every day for the kids at Ti­tahi Bay North.

The city’s first ko­hanga reo was es­tab­lished in Wai­tan­girua in the early 90s, but af­ter kids went through that there was no where to con­tinue on learn­ing.

‘‘This school stepped up to the plate and we’ve been teach­ing te reo for 25 years.’’

It was im­por­tant to pro­vide a place that chil­dren could speak their ‘‘mother lan­guage’’.

‘‘In an ideal world kids would come from a Maori speak­ing house­hold, go to ko­hanga and come here as flu­ent speak­ers.’’

At the mo­ment the ju­nior class is busy learn­ing maths by mak­ing shapes with Parani Te MoanaFoai and as­sis­tant Roelle Waipara, whom the chil­dren call Whaea Parani and Ka­iawhina Roelle, mean­ing aunty and as­sis­tant re­spec­tively.

The chil­dren, aged 5 to 8, will spend three years with the same class­mates and teach­ers be­fore they head next door to the se­nior class taught by Po­hoira Clay and Erica Waipara.

Clay said the mixed classes were a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for the stu­dents.

‘‘It means our ba­bies aren’t scared of our se­niors and it creates a whanau at­mos­phere.’’ Waipara had been teach­ing at the school for 21 years and said she was lucky to come from a flu­ent house­hold where her par­ents spoke Maori.

She said by the time her stu­dents were ready for col­lege they were flu­ent in Maori and ready for new chal­lenges.

‘‘Our se­niors have daily teach­ing in read­ing and writ­ing in English to make cer­tain they’re up to speed for main­stream schools.

‘‘They al­ready speak English, they’re not miss­ing out.’’

Every week is Maori Lan­guage Week for these stu­dents at Ti­tahi Bay North School, who are sit­ting NCEA Level 1 Maori even though they are only 12.

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