Sitting NCEA Maori exam at 12
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.