The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

If Maori Lan­guage Week in­spired you, you can keep learn­ing te reo Maori at the High­bury Whanau Cen­tre.

Te reo tu­tor Tahi Gotty thor­oughly approves of Maori Lan­guage Week.

Gotty has been run­ning com­mu­nity-based Maori lan­guage learn­ing for years.

His cur­rent ses­sions are for three hours ev­ery Thurs­day night in the High­bury Whanau Cen­tre.

‘‘I like Maori Lan­guage Week, and it’s good TV has picked it up.’’

Of course he would like to see the weather and news cap­tions, place names, news in­tros and out­ros ex­tended across the whole year, but hav­ing a full week fo­cus once a year is bet­ter than hav­ing noth­ing at all.

‘‘Te reo is some­thing ev­ery­body can own... like the haka, it gives the coun­try a sense of identity. No one else has it.’’

Gotty’s ap­proach is fo­cused on speak­ing the lan­guage first, with the aim of hav­ing his stu­dents able to string sim­ple phrases and sen­tences to­gether a minute after the class starts.

‘‘I don’t tend to use pen and pa­per... and I only have one rule – ‘Make mis­takes your friend’. Many peo­ple have in­hi­bi­tions about mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tion. I tell them not to worry. I’ve heard ev­ery mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tion there is and it doesn’t mat­ter to me. The more they speak, the sooner those mis­takes will be fixed.’’

It’s a non-aca­demic ap­proach to learn­ing. Main­stream lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion tries to teach stu­dents to talk, read and write all at once. For many peo­ple, that doesn’t work. One thing at a time, he reck­ons. Gotty’s stu­dents are only al­lowed to write at the end of the les­son.

‘‘When chil­dren pick up a lan­guage, they learn to talk first. They lis­ten and then they speak.’’

Gotty teaches phrases based on pic­tures or ob­jects, based on a method used to teach English as a sec­ond lan­guage.

‘‘It’s de­signed to be sim­ple. The ba­sis of a lan­guage is rote learn­ing to start off with... it’s not NZQA, but I can get stu­dents up to speed so they can feel con­fi­dent about stay­ing on the jour­ney. Learn­ing Maori, as with any­thing, is a jour­ney.’’

And if be­gin­ners start turn­ing up to the al­ready es­tab­lished classes on Thurs­day evenings, that’s fine too.

‘‘I teach peo­ple who want to learn. If they want to learn, they won’t be turned away.’’



Tahi Gotty’s Te Ataarangi com­mu­nity Maori lan­guage classes at High­bury Whanau Cen­tre makes use of coloured te rakau to cre­ate pic­tures and teach te reo.

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