Speech: Te Ahu o te Reo Māori Kapiti-Horowhenua Orientation Day

  • Hon Kelvin Davis

Speech: Te Ahu o te Reo Māori Kapiti-Horowhenua Orientation Day

Ōtaki Māori Racing Club, Ōtaki. 15 July 2019.

I just want to start by acknowledging our hosts, Kāuru Education Group, led by Te Whatanui Winiata, and also our three kaumatua from the Winiata family: Whatarangi Winiata, Francie Winiata and Margaret Winiata.

I’d also like to acknowledge all our other kaiako involved with the delivery of Te Ahu o te Reo Māori - thank you for coming along today.

This Government is focused on putting the long-term wellbeing of New Zealanders at the heart of what we do. We’re looking ahead 30 years, not just three.

We know that education is critical to the wellbeing of Māori. So part of that long-term focus is to improve the outcomes and experience for Māori kids and their whānau in the education system.

We are making progress on this work in various ways.

We have announced new funding for Kōhanga, more support for Māori medium education, a focus on Māori in our teacher supply package and a $42 million investment to address racism and bias across the system and support whānau to better engage in learning.

And last year we announced our intention to strip down and rebuild the education system to ensure it is fit-for-purpose for the 21st century. This will be a once-in-30 years refresh and we must ensure it delivers for Māori.

Another long-term commitment for our Government is to create more opportunities for all New Zealanders to learn te reo Māori. That’s a core value for us because we believe te reo is a unique taonga for all New Zealanders.

We have set an ambitious goal to integrate te reo Māori into education in early learning and schools by 2025. That means seeing and hearing te reo Māori used regularly across the education system.

We know that this will improve interactions and relationships with students, parents and whānau – and mean better outcomes for our kids.

That’s why, in 2018, I announced $12.2 million over four years to support Te Ahu o te Reo Māori. Te Ahu o te Reo Māori is about building the capability of the education workforce to make the use of te reo a normal and widespread thing.

But just as important is ensuring we pronounce Māori correctly.

It sounds simple. But you only need to watch a rugby game on television to realise it’s not. Taranaki is reduced to ‘The Naki’; Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is known as ‘Triple T’; and the Kapiti is known as ‘Cap-a-tee.’ If only our country’s sports commentators had taken as much care to learn and pronounce te reo Māori as they did to learn that the Jaguars, as I know them, are in fact the Jaguares.

Sadly, it’s easier and more amusing to mangle our reo, than to take the same care and attention it takes to learn a completely foreign reo.

Well, the days when our reo Māori is butchered are numbered.

This is an exciting time for the Māori language. We are witnessing growing evidence of attitudes to te reo Māori changing, as the value of the Māori language to New Zealand society becomes clear.

There is increasing demand from Māori and non-Māori students and their families to provide te reo Māori in all learning environments across education.

In the three years up to 2018, the number of students attending kura Māori increased by around 1000 annually.

In the same period, the demand for te reo Māori in schools increased by approximately 5000 students per year.

A New Zealand Council for Educational Research survey found that while teachers are embracing te reo Māori me ngā tikanga Māori principles in the classroom, and many teachers think it is important students learn te reo Māori, very few are able to use the language at more than a basic level.

So, we can see that Te Ahu o te Reo Māori is a timely initiative.

I can tell you that in the four areas where Te Ahu o te Reo Māori is being trialled – Waikato, Ngāi Tahu, Taranaki-Whanganui and here in Kapiti-Horowhenua-Porirua -- a total of 685 people have taken up this kaupapa.

I’m encouraged to be here today to mark this milestone event and acknowledge our new ambassadors of te reo Māori.  You are a credit to the institutions you represent and your whānau, and I hope you are inspired to go on to loftier heights with your reo.

Whether you are teachers or kaiako, principals or key support workers – over the next 17 weeks you will experience a mix of learning methods to support your aspirations, as well as the Government’s.

If I could ask one thing: please share your experiences with your colleagues. As a former teacher and principal I can only wish my former colleagues had the same opportunities.

So, again, congratulations. You are in safe hands on your reo journey. In fact, you are in expert hands and I wish to thank our Mātanga Māori who have lent their expertise to this kaupapa, as well as the kai mahi who will assist you over the coming weeks.

Finally I want to say, you are not alone. As we have increased growth of learners of te reo Māori in schools, the same appears to be happening in communities right across the country.

He kākano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiātea

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