Te Reo

10 Dec

This week’s reflection is one I found from earlier in the year during Maori Language Week and while our Year 9 students were planning their Marae trip. At the same time we were looking at Tataiako as a staff.

First some facts. Māori language week was set up back in the 1975. Part of the reason that the celebration was instituted was due to New Zealand almost stamping the language out. Kids got the strap for speaking Te Reo when my parents went to school. During the 1980s various Māori language recovery programmes were instituted including Māori immersion schools. Still during my time at school I can’t remember it being taught.

I remember my sister was advised that learning Te Reo was a waste of time because it was dead language but she embraced it at university. I only wish I had done the same instead of those dusty old Middle English papers.  That was only 25 years ago. It is a shame there’s still large pockets of Pakeha New Zealander who don’t want their kids to learn Te Reo.

In my educational journey I have enrolled in a Level 2 Te Reo course next year. I wish I had learned more as a younger student especially when going overseas. Overseas I found Kiwis embrace Māori culture and language as part of our identity. I still remember leading a haka while teaching in Papua New Guinea. I’m just glad it was before the era of Instagram or Facebook!

This year, while studying educational documents like Ka Hikitea or articles like the  Issues of Culture and Assessment in New Zealand Education pertaining to Māori Students by Rangimārie Mahuika and Russell Bishop I have realized the language is so rich. So even though my own knowledge of Māori is pretty poor, I could still help my students by empowering them. One of the most powerful things I did was to get the kids to identify my learning need. They helped me also prepare Powhiri. What the kids came back with was nothing short of amazing. This was an illustration of the professional learning network at its best. The students saw me as a lifelong learner.

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