School to offer bilingual class
‘‘There are very few children in Kapiti that are fluent speakers of te reo.’’
Paraparaumu School is starting a bilingual te reo Maori primary school class, in a bid to revitalise the language in the district.
The class will feature the current New Zealand curriculum taught in English, but with a Maori world view. Currently, no class of its kind is offered between Paekakariki and Otaki.
Gina Sarich, who would teach the class, said it would involve ‘‘between 30 and 50 per cent Maori immersion’’.
Most class interactions outside of the curriculum would be in Maori, with a focus on customs such as karakia (prayers), mihimihi (introductions) and waiata (songs).
Sarich said the class would be open to year 0 to 3 students and would begin in term 1 next year.
Students from other schools will be able to enrol in the class.
The school is hosting an information evening to gauge interest next month.
Local kaumatua, Koro Don Te Maipi, approached the school with the idea about 18 months ago.
The school has a roll of 215, with 62 of Maori descent, but Sarich said the class would fill a need around Kapiti too.
‘‘There are very few children in Kapiti that are fluent speakers of te reo.
‘‘It’ll provide them a chance to reconnect with being Maori.’’
Currently, the only local options for children graduating from Te Kohanga Reo, a Maori immersion facility for pre-school children in Raumati South, are programmes in Otaki.
School principal Steven Caldwell said research into bilingual teaching shows it was having positive results.
‘‘One issue parents have is that one language suffers. That won’t happen.
‘‘If you’re learning two languages in this structure, it enhances both languages.’’
He said the class would be integrated into extracurricular activities and school life like any other.
The pair said in the future, they hoped to form more classes, or even a whanau hub, to allow family members to learn the language alongside their children.
Paraparaumu schoolteacher Gina Sarich will teach the school’s new English-Te Reo Maori bilingual class, beginning next year