Maori Language Week is for everyone to enjoy
Te Kohanga Reo O Nga Puawai is an early childhood education centre based in Maori language and customs, catering for children aged 0-5. There are currently 460 kohanga reo throughout New Zealand, and we also have several kohanga reo throughout Australia and Britain. We create a nurturing, loving environment fully immersed in te reo Maori and tikanga Maori.
The kohanga reo movement was conceived and led in the late 1970s by kaumatua as a response to the serious decline in Maori language and culture. They realised that without the language, their cultural identity could be lost forever.
The movement has been a huge success in bringing about a renaissance of Maori language and customs. As well as benefiting Maori in terms of their individual identity, there is ample evidence that children who learn more than one language benefit academically in many ways.
Kohanga reo is where our tamariki learn about Maori traditions, waiata, whakapapa and karakia, all taught in te reo Maori. We have a range of nationalities and ethnicities at Nga Puawai – kohanga reo is not for Maori only.
We have three kohanga reo in the Marlborough region but the only one currently operating is Nga Puawai. We are based in Budge St next to the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology – we get a lot of whanau attending courses at the polytech.
Kohanga reo is whanau-led. We also encourage our kohanga whanau to come and learn beside their tamariki, so that their knowledge of te reo increases and helps to support the learning of te reo Maori with their children at home.
Kohanga reo is the only place in Marlborough where children aged 0-5 are able to learn te reo Maori in a total immersion environment.
Our tamariki who come out of kohanga in the Marlborough area are unfortunate in that they have nowhere to follow on to that is bilingual or total immersion, such as kura kaupapa (Maori immersion schools), Nelson being the closest kura kaupapa in our area.
Maori Language Week is a great initiative for te reo Maori, and it’s great to see schools and workplaces getting involved.
We think the theme for this year’s Maori Language Week – parents passing te reo on to their children – is great, because without parents supporting the learning of te reo Maori at home, the children will soon lose their reo. But for us here at Nga Puawai Kohanga Te Reo, Maori Language Week is every week.
Children at Te Kohanga Reo O Nga Puawai, from left, Atolo Veikoso, Jada Taoho, Jack Wickens and Sanimata Veikoso.