Students want more te reo Māori language in their schools

In support of Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori 2020 the Education Review Office has today released the second report in its series on the current provision of te reo Māori language teaching and learning in New Zealand schools.

Nihinihi whenua – Valuing te reo Māori: Student and whānau aspirations provides a snapshot of student and whānau perspectives on the teaching of te reo. It follows the June publication of Te Tāmata Huaroa, which provides a review of the current status of te reo Māori in English medium school settings.

“Students and whānau spoke to us directly and openly about their aspirations for the language,” ERO Chief Executive Nicholas Pole says. “The four interrelated themes that emerged were: a desire to learn te reo Māori, valuing the importance of te reo Māori, prioritising te reo Māori, and strengthening capability in the education system to deliver the teaching of te reo Māori.

“One student told us ‘I want to learn to teach te reo Māori so I can teach the future generations and keep the reo alive’, and another that ‘Our principal tries to speak it a lot. It’s pretty powerful, he’s putting in an effort and that’s pretty cool in my opinion’.

“Whānau spoke of wanting ‘Te reo to be a language of communication, rather than just a ceremony’, and that ‘Schools need to connect with whānau and iwi so they know the right karakia, waiata and legends that belong to mana whenua’.”

Based on the voices shared in this report, we know that students and their whānau have a strong desire to learn te reo Māori as a part of their everyday schooling in English medium school settings, Mr Pole says. This desire is affirmed when they can see clearly that te reo Māori is valued and prioritised by school leaders and teachers in their learning environment.

“Our research found that a focus on capability building and improvement is needed to provide genuine learning opportunities in te reo in our schools.

“We need to focus on growing the capability of leaders and teachers, so that they may better deliver high-quality te reo Māori programmes. For this to be possible, the education system needs to provide high-quality professional development, time and resource to support all leaders and teachers who need this.

“Te reo Māori is a taonga of Aotearoa, guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi, and the schools that we talked with as part of this research want to do more to promote and grow it. This research series and ERO’s work programme that will follow are among the important steps in supporting the transformation required.”

ERO’s series of reports is informed by a representative sample of 102 English medium primary and secondary schools across Aotearoa. Subsequent projects will explore in more detail the extent, effectiveness and quality of te reo Māori teaching and learning in English medium settings.