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Te Wiki o te Reo Maori

Shari Taylor [in red, bottom right] outside the Makoura College wharenui with her students. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Makoura College students enthusiastic about their culture

Eli Hill

Makoura College students are getting involved in Te Wiki o te Reo Māori as the school looks towards the future of te reo Māori education.

On Monday, students joined the nationwide effort to have one million people speak, sing, and celebrate in te reo Māori at midday.

Yesterday, they had a kīwaha hunt – students found phrases in te reo and if they could pronounce them correctly, they got a prize.

Today, they will be serving coffees in te reo, and tomorrow, the classes that take kaupapa Māori, te reo Māori, and Māori performing arts will be singing and performing.

Kaupapa Māori and Māori performing arts teacher Shari Taylor of Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Moe, and Ngāti Rongomai said the students were “really proud about the culture and how strong Māoritanga is”.

“I don’t have the words to describe their enthusiasm about who they are and where they come from and their whakapapa.

“They’ve got their teachers enthusiastic about it.”

While students embraced te reo through the week – Taylor said the school was looking towards the future of te reo education through a new course that will be starting next year.

“Te kōhanga mātauranga – which means the nest of knowledge – it’s a reo rumaki – a full on immersion class with a multi-level teaching and learning environment.

“We haven’t had that for a really long time – to have that reintroduced into the school is really great.

“Our students are so fascinated with their stories and who they are and where they come from.”

Taylor said using the tools passed down by their ancestors would only make the new generation stronger for when they leave school to do “whatever they do after”.

“It’s really just building … their identity and I’m so amazed by these kids – and this programme is designed for them, with them, around them.

“There’s been huge discussions with what they want to do next year and that’s been their main thing is ‘I want to know about the history’ – the local history and themselves.”

The course had a “huge” sign-up of 50-60 students.

“It makes me speechless to see the kids so passionate about their culture and building their Māoritanga.

“I’m only here to facilitate what they want to do and cater to them because we always say – they are our tomorrow, and it looks like a really beautiful future if they continue along this pathway.”

Taylor started teaching at Makoura College in 2016 and the course “has been in the making” ever since.

“I took over from a brilliant teacher called Maria Bourne, she had a programme that was kind of set up for the kids and in the last four years I have changed it up to suit the kids.

“Now’s the time to implement the last part of the programme.”

Students would be with Taylor for the majority of their schooling if they chose to.

Taylor said she didn’t know of any other schools that were doing what Makoura would be doing.

“I only know of kura obviously, but apart from any other mainstream – or kura auraki – there’s no other school that is doing what we’re doing.

“Mā te kahukura ka rere te manu. If we adorn them with all the feathers – all the skills and knowledge they need, by the end of their years they’ll be able to fly wherever they want and need to go.”

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