Cel­e­brat­ing Maori lan­guage

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OR­GIA FOR­RESTER

For many, Maori Lan­guage Week is about recog­nis­ing and cel­e­brat­ing Maori cul­ture in New Zealand. But for Cen­tral Nor­mal School, based in Palmer­ston North, te reo Maori and Maori cul­ture are wo­ven into most as­pects of their stu­dents’ learn­ing.

Year 6 pupil La-Shae Te Whata, 11, speaks te reo in her classes each day and also at home.

‘‘I try and speak it as much as pos­si­ble.’’

La-Shae and her friend Matariki Iwikau, 10, are able to hold a con­ver­sa­tion in te reo and speak to their teach­ers.

Act­ing prin­ci­pal Jan Thomas said the school did not of­fi­cially cel­e­brate Maori Lan­guage Week be­cause ev­ery week was like Maori Lan­guage Week.

The school has six bilin­gual classes and six teach­ers flu­ent in te reo.

‘‘We are 50 per cent Maori here, so we want all of our stu­dents to have that cul­tural in­clu­sion and cul­tural aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘It’s just part and par­cel of what we do here.’’

She said as role mod­els for the chil­dren, it was im­por­tant many of the teach­ers could speak flu­ent te reo and take part in train­ing to up­skill.

In May the school held a hangi for all of the chil­dren and re­cently also cel­e­brated Matariki – the Maori New Year Fes­ti­val.

She said the bilin­gual classes gave im­por­tant skills to the chil­dren and gave them the chance to use te reo in an ar­ray of sit­u­a­tions and ev­ery­day life.

She said a goal for the school was to in­crease the con­ver­sa­tions held in te reo Maori be­tween staff and stu­dents.

Pupil Sarah Green, 10, does not at­tend the bilin­gual classes but said she found it ex­cit­ing be­ing able to use Maori greet­ings, know the days of the week and Maori proverbs.

‘‘It’s cool to learn it and know how to say some of it.’’

Maori Lan­guage Week runs from Mon­day, July 4 to Sun­day, July 10.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

Cel­e­brat­ing Maori Lan­guage Week at Cen­tral Nor­mal School, from left, Sarah Green, La-Shae Te Whata, Matariki Iwikau and Malaki Sorensen-Tufuga.

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