Early childhood focus on te reo Ma¯ori
Rangiora’s Little Peppertree Preschool is heading into a full month of te reo Ma¯ori, starting with Ma¯ori language week.
Head teacher Kate Swaine said the centre was committed to the month-long celebration to allow for a fuller programme.
‘‘A week is just such a short time, we don’t want it to be a token gesture,’’ she said. ’’We use Ma¯ori daily, and we are measured by ERO, so in fact the early childhood sector is very good at it now.’’
Swaine has been at the centre in Rangiora for 17 years, over which time she had experienced a real shift in public perception. Some parents had objected to their child learning Ma¯ori but they were few and far between, she said. While some felt te reo was not relevant in today’s world, she vehemently disagreed.
‘‘Some say ‘where will that get you, it’s better to learn German or Mandarin’, but it’s our language. If we don’t speak Maori in New Zealand, where else are they going to speak it?
‘‘Any language learning is so good for the mind. But you can’t just learn the language because it has no context on its own, you need to learn the history too.’’
Maori myths and legends were an important part of the preschool’s reading, which taught about hunting for food or gathering kai moana.
‘‘It’s exciting to feed their minds and provide the props and then to see them acting it out in their own play.’’
It was also up to professional educators to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, she said, and she hoped that in a few years’ time people would not think twice about the use of te reo in schools.
At Little Peppertree children were well versed in numbers, colours and basic commands including horoi o ringaringa (wash your hands) and e noho (sit down), as well as days of the week and the weather.
‘‘At the moment they under- stand what I am asking them but I want to move past them just translating to them responding in Maori.’’
As well as the language, she had taught waiata (songs), poi and ra¯kau (sticks) for years. Each child at the pre-school had a set of poi.
Extra emphasis was going into te reo learning this month, including kapa haka outings, kiwiana dress up days and learning about local place names, Swaine said.
Little Peppertree Preschool supervisor Kate Swaine leads the tamariki in some poi practice.