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Teaching te reo Māori effectively

Principles of second-language teaching and learning

Te Aho Arataki provides guidelines for teaching te reo Māori effectively in English-medium schools. It emphasises the importance of task-based language learning to simulate genuine, real-life communication. The research conducted for the Ministry of Education by Rod Ellis provides evidence on the effectiveness of this approach (see Rod Ellis (2005): Education Counts. Instructed language learning is a complex process, and Ellis acknowledges that a definitive list of conditions for successful second-language learning is difficult to provide.

Nevertheless, despite competing theories, he identifies a set of evidence-based principles of quality pedagogy in second-language teaching and learning. Te Aho Arataki refers you to this research and to the associated case studies that highlight these principles.

Taking into account realistic expectations for curriculum levels 1-4, these are the principles identified by Ellis:

  • Provide your students with a rich repertoire of formulaic expressions (standard phrases) early in the learning process (for example, greetings, farewells, and the language of classroom management).
  • Expose your students to extensive input in te reo Māori, not just input from you. (The material on this website will help you to do this.)
  • Create genuine and purposeful output opportunities for the students to communicate, interact, and practise (by doing tasks).
  • Accommodate individual differences (through differentiated planning).
  • Encourage your students to notice the form of the target language (through carefully designed communicative tasks that draw attention to the grammatical structures of te reo Māori).

The following sections explore some implications for your classroom practice.

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Culture and language

Ko te reo te waka e kawe ana i ngā tikanga Māori. Language is the vehicle of the Māori culture.

Learning a language is not just about fluency and accuracy. Languages are also vehicles of culture. Languages mirror the way of life of the people who speak them. Learning a language involves coming to understand the values and culture of a people. For example, the Māori world view is associated with natural phenomena, such as the appearance of Matariki (the Pleiades). Te reo Māori is rooted in Māori culture. Values and beliefs can affect any act of communication. Although many second-language learners of te reo Māori may not wish to identify with the Māori culture, they do need to become aware of its associated attitudes, values, and behaviours.

Genuine effective communication in another language is more than simply using different words to convey a message, and it involves more than learning how other people talk. It is about accessing another world view and learning how others think. As your students begin to understand the interaction between language and culture, they will appreciate the need to be sensitive not just to what is said but also how something is said in a particular context. We call this socio-cultural competence. Achieving a measure of socio-cultural competence is one of the challenges of second-language learning.

Current second-language learning theory advocates an inter-cultural approach to language teaching. It is as important for you to develop a student’s cultural knowledge and understanding as it is to develop their linguistic competence. Help your students to explore the beliefs, values, and thought patterns that shape the Māori interpretation of the world. In this way, they will be in a better position to compare their culture with the target culture. They will arrive at their own “third place”, having repositioned themselves somewhere in between their own culture and the new one they are learning.

For some of your students, this will be an opportunity to further explore their own Māori identity, language, and culture. Other students will be able to compare their cultural practices with tikanga Māori. To do this, you may need to help them reflect on and negotiate cultural differences in a non-judgemental way. If they do, they will be able to communicate more effectively and appropriately across cultural boundaries by comparing and contrasting different cultural practices, including their own. This will help them to understand more about themselves and others.

This approach is consistent with the communicative approach to teaching te reo Māori where your students will be actively engaged in increasing their knowledge of, and fluency in, te reo Māori – which will gradually increase their access to tikanga Māori.

 Language and culture are inextricably linked, so teach te reo Māori in appropriate sociocultural contexts that incorporate the concepts, values, tikanga, and attitudes that are significant to Māori. He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora provides examples. You can explore Māori values in a classroom setting. For example, you and your students can explore:

  • manaakitanga and aroha (caring for each other and being encouraging and supportive)
  • mahi tahi (cooperating)
  • whakawhanaungatanga (socialising)
  • kaitiakitanga (taking care of the environment)
  • te hiringa i te mahara (pursuing excellence)
  • rerekētanga (celebrating diversity)
  • mahi ngātahi (arriving at decisions by consensus, allowing everyone the right to voice an opinion, and respecting each other’s contributions).

As your students explore these values from a Māori perspective, they will gain a deeper understanding of the significance of te ao Māori (the Māori world) and an appreciation of the usefulness and relevance of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori in today's world.

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Using a communicative approach

Communication is fundamental to language learning, which is why the core strand in the learning languages area of The New Zealand Curriculum is communication.

Students learn best when they understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they will be able to use their new learning. When discussing the concept of ako, the educator Rangimārie Rose Pere talks about how important it is for students to be engaged in meaningful real life tasks in which they are personally involved, rather than just “going through the motions” in artificial classroom exercises (see Rangimārie Rose Pere (1994)). Don’t expect your students to relate to something with which they have no experience. The more you can optimise the use of Māori in real situations, the more successful your students’ learning will be.

The key features of a communicative approach include:

  • introducing te reo Māori in contexts that are relevant to your learners
  • providing plenty of opportunities for practice
  • encouraging your students to interact with you and with each other, initiating language as well as responding to it
  • letting the language of classroom management become a major part of your learners’ initial communicative repertoire (that is, understanding your instructions in Māori, making requests in Māori, and asking for help in Māori)
  • building your students’ confidence in using te reo Māori so that they feel encouraged to communicate in it
  • providing regular feedback to your students on their growing ability to communicate in te reo Māori.

Taking a communicative approach will build your students’ confidence in, and ability to use, te reo Māori in their everyday lives.

At curriculum levels 1 and 2, the emphasis is on listening and speaking skills because speech is the main means of communication at this stage. As you and your students talk and listen, use language that reflects students’ interests and their stage of development. Concentrate on language that they can use for meaningful purposes. The language of classroom management is a good place to start. Provide practice opportunities that are authentic and as close as possible to natural speech.

There is no fixed sequence for teaching the different structures of te reo Māori, though obviously you should focus at first on the less complicated ones. Keep returning to familiar language experiences (rerunning) in order to increase the students’ confidence, fluency, and accuracy.

Because communication is a two-way process, encourage the students to initiate talk. Encourage them to use Māori not only with you but also with their peers and at home. As your own confidence and fluency increases, use te reo Māori with other people in your school community. This will give your students the opportunity to observe you in the act of using te reo Māori to communicate. Be part of making te reo Māori visible in your school and community by using it for real communication. The eight units in He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora provide communicative tasks. These tasks will help you to maximise your students’ potential for learning and make links to other learning areas.

Keep monitoring students’ achievements and provide regular feedback, with sensitive correction as needed. It is normal for students to make lots of errors as they begin to speak another language. While your learners are fine-tuning particular structures, accept their approximations. The most important thing is that they are willing to try – that they genuinely want to communicate. Just note common errors to revisit later. If you do this sensitively, your students will take risks and make mistakes, which is an important part of learning a language. Use your observations as the basis for your ongoing planning and teaching.

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Input before output

Second-language learners need to hear the target language being spoken before they talk. Learning te reo Māori involves developing listening and speaking skills first, with reading and writing initially taking a back seat. This is especially so for students in junior classes. Second-language learners understand much more than they can produce at first. Practice is important - where they can try things out, work out the rules, take risks, and make mistakes. The main thing is that they communicate about things that matter to them, with people who listen, and for a real purpose. For your learners to become confident users of te reo Māori, you need to provide lots of opportunity for practice. Give them plenty of time to listen and understand before you ask them to speak. When they do start to say things in Māori, don't undervalue their attempts to communicate. It is unrealistic to expect language that is consistently free of errors. Praise their attempts and create a positive attitude towards learning te reo Māori and "giving things a go".

Just as at first they will understand more than they say, later they will be able to say more than they can read and write. For this reason, introduce new words and expressions many times before you expect your students to understand and use them. Successful communication in te reo Māori should always be the goal.

Primary students learn to write in part by reading, so promote a love of reading in te reo Māori in your classroom. Start with resources like the books in the Pīpī series, the Ngā Kete Kōrero series, and the He Purapura series. You will find books in these series listed in each unit. You could read a story to your class in Māori every day, to model good pronunciation and introduce (and revisit) new vocabulary.

When you eventually do introduce writing in te reo Māori, concentrate on helping your students to write about things that matter to them, such as events in their world. Start with things that are of special meaning and interest to them. It is also important that your students overhear Māori being spoken around them. Overhearing part of a conversation in te reo Māori taking place in the school office, for example, can be as important as hearing it spoken in your classroom.

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A communicative approach to second-language teaching is a meaning-focused approach. Second-language learners may know less vocabulary than they actually need in order to communicate effectively. Building up vocabulary is important. To learn new vocabulary, your students will need to return to new words and phrases many times, in a variety of situations, and in many different tasks. According to the linguist Paul Meara, learning words is probably more important than any other factor in learning a second language successfully (see Paul Meara (1996), p37). To use an analogy, words are the bricks of a language, and grammar is the mortar. Students who know many words tend to be more proficient than students who don't.

Although your students will learn words incidentally as they encounter them in (and beyond) your classroom, you should explicitly focus on vocabulary learning in order to expand their vocabulary "banks". Do this by exposing them to words in context. Use suitable texts. Look at the meaning, spelling, and pronunciation of words. Examine how they are used in sentences. Explore their cultural associations. Best practice in vocabulary learning involves students working on tasks and activities that cause them to pay attention to a word's meaning and how it is used in context.

Focus on high-frequency words and words that your students actually need. Use different strategies, for example, repetition, picture-word matching, and translation. Expose your students to the same words over and over again in many different contexts until they are consolidated.

In the videos, you can see teachers introducing new vocabulary and providing their students with opportunities to practise in different communicative contexts to encourage retention. The videos show how to use high-frequency vocabulary in repeated, increasingly-spaced opportunities for students to re-meet and retrieve words. With your students, revisit new vocabulary in a variety of contexts (input) so that they have genuine opportunities to learn the new material before you expect them to produce it (output).

High-frequency words are extremely important for the learners of any language. In te reo Māori, as in other languages, a relatively small number of words are used a lot. A much larger number of words occur less often. The first group is known as high-frequency vocabulary. In te reo Māori, about 360 of the most frequently used words are particularly important. They make up a large proportion of the words that learners meet when they are listening to conversations and reading everyday text.

Added to the high-frequency words are the words that occur frequently in particular contexts (topic words). They may not be particularly common otherwise.

Your students need to learn the high-frequency words of te reo Māori, and their meanings, in order to understand what they hear and read. Spending time in class on these high-frequency words and phrases is worth the effort. (See the publications by Paul Nation, in the References section, for more information on teaching and learning vocabulary.)

To reduce the learning burden, you can use the Ministry of Education's high-frequency vocabulary list for te reo Māori, which is on Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi.

You will find:

  • a list in alphabetical order of the thousand most frequently used Māori words
  • a list of the same thousand words in descending order of frequency with the most frequent word “te” at the start. The first 360 words are particularly important for anyone learning Māori, but all thousand occur relatively frequently.

There are regional variations, that is, different words for the same thing. See later in this section for more information.

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Early second-language learners need to focus on vocabulary and getting their messages across rather than focusing on getting the grammar right (see Ellis (2002), p31). More communication breakdowns are caused by vocabulary errors than by grammatical ones (see Ellis (1994)). Look at the grammar of te reo Maori in context and be guided by your students' ages, proficiency, and background knowledge.

The grammar progression developed by the Ministry of Education for the teaching of te reo Māori in English-medium schools, which is available online in Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi, provides a solid framework if you combine it with the incremental learning progressions in the curriculum guidelines. As Te Aho Arataki (page 25) explains, you "can scaffold students' learning of specific language forms by setting them well-constructed communicative tasks that naturally lead them to notice and reproduce these forms so that they gain implicit knowledge of them." (Implicit knowledge occurs unconsciously). You can help to make this knowledge explicit "by discussing the language forms incidentally". (Explicit knowledge requires conscious teaching and learning.)

Start with simple, common structures and then gradually work towards more complex ones. The items listed in each level of the grammar progression in Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi are only suggestions. At any level, items from earlier levels are still relevant. Review them and extend them using a spiral approach, adding more detail and complexity as your students become ready for it.

A grammar progression can only ever be a rough guide because the order in which you introduce things will depend, to some extent, on the language background of individual learners - and their needs.

For example, Māori pronouns are difficult for English speakers to learn because there are singular, dual, and plural ones - and because they have an element of inclusivity and exclusivity that English pronouns do not have. But pronouns are common words that students will need. To ease the learning burden for your students, and to avoid potential confusion, introduce them gradually. Start with singular and plural pronouns. Once your students are using these, move on to the dual pronouns, since we use dual pronouns less frequently.

Similarly, the concept of inclusive and exclusive pronouns (tāua, tātou and māua, mātou) will be unfamiliar to most speakers of English - unless they speak a Polynesian language. So, establish the other pronouns first and focus on these later.

None of this implies, of course, that you should use technical grammatical terms with your students. As explained in Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi, while the technical language of grammar, such as "past tense marker", may be of use to you as a teacher, when you talk to your students, you need to do so "in a way that suits their current level of understanding". For example, you might talk about how we say that something has happened.

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Your students need to learn the sound system of te reo Māori, including the Māori alphabet, pronunciation, and stress patterns. Fortunately, pronunciation is fairly straightforward compared with many other languages, and it is phonetic.

There are five vowels in the Māori alphabet (a, e, i, o, and u), eight consonants (h, k, m, n, p, r, t, and w ), and two digraphs (two letters that combine to form one sound): ng (pronounced as in the English word “singer”) and wh (pronounced in most iwi as an English “f” sound).

Introducing the alphabet

You could use the Ara Pūreta books from the Pīpī series when you introduce the alphabet. For example, the pronunciation of the letter A is featured in:

Aa. Goulton, Frances (2006). Wellington: Learning Media.

Other Ara Pūreta books with the following titles, but otherwise the same bibliographic details, are Ee, Ii, Uu, Hh, Kk, Mm, Nn, Pp, Rr, Tt, Ww, Ng ng, and Wh wh.

Diphthongs (combinations of vowels) are common, as in the word “marae”. When two vowels occur together like this, each is sounded separately.

A vowel can be either long or short. A long sound is written with a macron (a small bar) above the vowel, as in “kākāriki” (green).

The following pronunciation guide for the vowels was developed by the Māori Language Commission.







a as in about ā as in far
e as in enter ē as in bed
i as in eat ī as in sheep
o as in awful ō as in pork
u as in put ū as in boot

Te reo Māori does not have consonant clusters (that is, consonants occurring together). One or more vowels will always separate the consonants in a word, and a word will always end with a vowel.

Māori consonants are mainly pronounced as they are in English, except for "r", which is articulated with the tongue near the front of the mouth. It is fairly close to an English "l".

The main stress in a Māori word usually comes on the first long vowel, for example, mātua. If there isn't a long vowel, the syllable containing a diphthong is stressed, for example, marae. If there isn't a long vowel or a diphthong, the first syllable is stressed, for example, oma. These are general guidelines only - there are exceptions.

To hear the sounds that make up te reo Māori, you could use the Ministry of Education CD Rom Ko te Pū.

In the early stages, spend time tuning your students' ears to the sounds and rhythms of the language. You can do this by listening to Māori radio programmes and watching Māori television programmes with your students - and by inviting speakers of the language into your classroom. Initially, the students will understand only a little or, possibly, nothing at all, but they will gradually become familiar with the sounds and rhythms of te reo Māori and will be able to pick out words and phrases.

There are some useful strategies for understanding radio and television programmes broadcast in te reo Māori. These include setting goals. For example, if you listen to the news with your students, try to work out some of the main points and the names of the people involved, the date, and the time. Before watching a cooking programme together, teach some food-related terms. Even if you and the students don't understand a lot, try to at least pinpoint where one word/sentence stops and another one begins.

When you introduce new vocabulary, break the words up into syllables. If you and your students are new to learning te reo Māori and are finding the pronunciation difficult, begin by breaking down familiar Māori names into syllables (perhaps using those of students and teachers in your school). You could also use Māori street names in your community and Māori place names in your part of the country. Because te reo Māori is a phonetic language, it is easy to break into syllables. Each syllable has only one vowel in it, for example, Ta-a-ma-ki-ma-ka-u-ra-u (Auckland).

Listening to, and singing, waiata is a useful approach because waiata:

  • provide a non-threatening way for your students to practise their pronunciation in a group situation
  • help to improve listening comprehension by exposing students to new vocabulary and language structures (grammar).

Gradually, your students will start to realise that waiata are integral to Māori culture. In the unit plans, you will find some suggestions for waiata to use with your students. The resources in the Kiwi Kidsongs series (such as Kiwi Kids Waiata) and in Hei Waiata, Hei Whakakoakoa – Waiata to Support Teaching and Learning of te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools: Years 1–8 are good sources.

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Regional variations

Te reo Māori has some regional variations – occasionally in the grammar but usually only in pronunciation and vocabulary. These variations don’t present barriers to communication – they add to the richness of the language.

You may be aware of some regionally-preferred words for things like kaimoana (seafood), trees, and shrubs. For example, the North Auckland word for flax is usually “kōrari”, whereas it is called “harakeke” further south. Other common regional variations are pango/mangu (black), māngai/waha (mouth), tākuta/rata (doctor), tito/teka/rūpahu (untruth), tini/maha (many), koa/hari (glad), hōhipera/hōhipere (hospital), ngeru/naki (cat), whaea/kōkā/hākui (mother), mātua/hākoro (father), and mātenga/māhunga/upoko (head).

Language tip

You might like to reflect the local regional variation(s) in your programme. This would be a good opportunity to make contact with speakers of te reo Māori from the area.

For students achieving at curriculum levels 3 and 4, one way to extend their learning is to begin to explore some of these regional variations, beginning with variations used in your area and by students’ whānau.

The following are examples of regional variations in pronunciation, though this list is not exhaustive:

  • In the eastern districts of the North Island, from the Bay of Plenty, around East Cape, and then to the south, it is common to hear words such as mātou, rātou, and tātou pronounced as mātau, rātau, and tātau. In these districts, the pronunciation of the diphthong “ei” (as in words like teina, kei, and hei) is “ai” (as in taina, kai, and hai).
  • In the Waikato, tētahi becomes tētehi and ētahi becomes ētehi.
  • Tūhoe people replace “ng” with “n”, as in tanata for tangata and rani for rangi.
  • The Taranaki region drops the “h” sound and replaces it with a glottal stop, for example, ’omai instead of homai, ’aere mai instead of haere mai, and mi’i instead of mihi.
  • Māori people in North Auckland seem to prefer a “u” over an “i”, as in tupuna instead of tipuna and unu instead of inu. They also tend to put a “w” before such words as ēnei, ēnā, ērā, āku, āu, and āna to create wēnei, wēnā, wērā, wāku, wāu, and wāna.
  • In the South Island, Kāi Tahu people tend to replace the “ng” digraph with a “k”, as in mātauraka instead of mātauranga.

Language tip

Sometimes the “wh” is pronounced as a “w” and sometimes like an English “wh”.

For further advice about regional variations, see page 8 in Te Aho Arataki

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Group work

At times, you will want to provide opportunities for your students to work on their own on tasks specifically tailored to their individual language needs. But groups, as well as individuals, can achieve excellence. Completing a task in a small group should involve students helping each other to negotiate meaning. Many of the tasks will be social, where the students work together and practise using te reo Māori in authentic (if, at times, simulated) situations. In this context, acknowledge and reward group success. Value and recognise each individual in the group for his or her contribution.

Other learning areas

He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora provides suggestions on how you could integrate te reo Māori across other learning areas of the curriculum and, given that a holistic approach to learning is important in te ao Māori, we encourage you to include Māori as the language of class instruction and in interactions throughout the day – albeit working with a limited repertoire at the beginning levels. Look for opportunities to incorporate te reo Māori across the curriculum.

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Using information and communication technology

The integration of information and communication technology (ICT) into education is an important Ministry goal.

Using ICT is explored in Learning Languages: A Guide for New Zealand Schools, which advocates the use of ICT to complement other materials and activities, to cater for different learning levels and needs, and to support students who “are motivated by being able to learn independently through appropriate software and relevant programmes” (page 44).

On the homepage for Learning Languages, the Ministry of Education states that the integration of ICT-based activities into classroom programmes is most effective when their use is:

  • frequent and goes across the different learning areas
  • challenging, promoting creative and critical thinking
  • accessible to students wherever and whenever they have the need
  • normalised
  • consistent with the teacher’s pedagogical philososphy and the school ethos.

The effective use of the ICT components of He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora will lead to changes in the teaching and learning of te reo Māori in your classroom. Most teachers in English-medium primary schools are not fluent Māori speakers or second-language teaching experts. The integration of ICT will facilitate input beyond them. We have included online video examples of practice, animations demonstrating pronunciation, and links to other online resources.

The website will help you to provide a rich Māori language learning experience for your students. You can use it to access the video content, the reomations, resource sheets, transcripts, and other web-based components. In addition, for a suite of online materials designed to support the teaching of te reo Māori as a second language, go to Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi.

You could also pursue these ICT ideas:

  • Use other material on Te Kete Ipurangi in addition to the resources in Te Whakaipurangi Rauemi, including the resources at Te Reo Māori in Schools.
  • Facilitate online language buddying so that your students can try out their new reo Māori skills by communicating with their peers in other schools through, for example, texting, email, and Skype.
  • Use group texting by, for example, texting your whole class to consolidate the use of new words and phrases.
  • Use iPod casting to provide opportunities for your students to share their expertise and develop their Māori language competency. 
  • Use forums, blogs, and wikis to help your students build their knowledge of Māori. These tools support communities of learners to access, create, share, and practise te reo Māori. They will provide your students with direct access to other learners. They will also support individual and collective reflection on what your students are learning. To ensure that the tools are used successfully – and for this to be a sustainable activity – your students need to be involved in the creation and sharing of the environment and its content.
  • Watch television programmes (or sections of programmes) in te reo Māori streamed online to increase opportunities for your students to hear other people using te reo Māori and to give them greater access to te ao Māori.
  • Share digital portfolios with whānau. This will encourage your students to take ownership of their learning.
  • Use a smartboard to communicate with other teachers and your students, sharing resources and ideas.

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Engaging whānau

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Ka whakarongo ake au ki te tangi a te manu, a te mātui. I listen to the cry of the bird, the mātui.
Tui tui tuituia. Tuia i runga, tuia i raro. Stitch, stitch, stitching. Stitching above, stitching below.
Tuia i roto, tuia i waho. Stitching within, stitching without.
Ka rongo te pō, ka rongo te ao. The call is heard at night, the call is heard at daytime.
Tui tui tuituia. Stitch, stitch, stitching.

In te ao Māori, people work together. Everyone brings their skills and knowledge to contribute to the group. In the traditional tauparapara (evocation) above, a mātui (messenger bird) urges people to adopt a sense of oneness. This is expressed through the image of a piece of fabric with stitches above, below, inside, and out. So it is with teachers, whānau, advisers, and the local community all working to achieve the best outcomes for students – kia tuia te muka tangata (to stitch together a fabric of people).

The Ministry of Education publication Te Mana Kōrero urges schools to build and sustain strong links with whānau in order to support student achievement.

Effective programmes empower parents and respect the diverse cultural values that they and their children bring to the school community. In a transcript from Te Mana Kōrero (2007), Mason Durie explains why culture is so integral to learning. As he puts it, “If you leave a cultural perspective out of the learning process then it’s cerebral learning, which doesn’t touch the heart.”

In Te Mana Kōrero (2007), pages 9–13, there is empirical evidence of the benefits of having productive school-whānau partnerships. Benefits include feelings of well-being, improved classroom behaviour, and gains in achievement. In effective school-whānau partnerships, both sides are accountable to the other. They each take responsibility for their part in the partnership. This requires open and clear communication between both parties. When this happens, the teaching and learning methods you are using in your classroom will be familiar to, and will be supported by, whānau.

The first principle of establishing a te reo Māori programme is to consult the people who have a stake in it. Māori whānau are key repositories of knowledge about te ao Māori and te reo Māori. They will support their tamariki in their learning if they understand what you are doing and why you are doing it the way you are. Take them into your confidence, listen to them, and don’t be afraid to position yourself as a learner in the spirit of “ako”.

Ensure that the learning tasks you use are relevant and meaningful to your students. Make the student learning outcomes explicit so that both your students and their whānau know what the students are expected to achieve.

Engaging with whānau isn’t something you can achieve overnight. Develop an action plan of incremental steps to work on with whānau members.

A plan could include the following parts and, where possible, be developed with whānau:

  • a vision of what you want to achieve
  • a focus area for development
  • an action-based goal around the focus area
  • an outline of the steps needed to reach the goal
  • your criteria for success.

Some practical ways of engaging whānau include:

  • establishing a whānau support group to nurture te reo Māori in your school
  • organising community evenings to celebrate the achievement of your students in learning te reo Māori
  • communicating regularly with whānau through pānui (newsletters), email, and telephone calls
  • hosting regular meetings, perhaps facilitated by a local kaumātua and kuia, to discuss ways that whānau can support te reo Māori teaching and learning
  • teachers taking part in some marae-based learning to become familiar with te reo Māori and its associated tikanga
  • encouraging whānau to participate in your planning process, including planning the school curriculum.

Base your te reo Māori programme on the needs of your students as determined by their whānau in consultation with you. As quoted by a school principal in Te Mana Kōrero (2007):

We are not asking Pākehā teachers to come with that knowledge (culture, tikanga, reo), but we are asking them to come with an open mind and an attitude that they will be receptive to finding out more themselves and including it in the learning programmes of our children, so that the children can see some familiarity, and that their cultural knowledge is valid.

Te reo Māori programmes in English-medium schools have a number of starting points, depending on the strengths of the teachers and the aspirations of the community. The eight units in this resource will help you to be better equipped, which in turn will strengthen your relationship with your students and their whānau, ultimately contributing to improved learning outcomes.

It is important for all parents and caregivers of the students in your class to feel part of the reo Māori programme you are offering. Regular contact with them and with your local Māori community will only strengthen the effectiveness of te reo Māori teaching and learning in your classroom. Consultation not only leads to more effective programmes but will also contribute to a good relationship between your school and your community.

Maori vocabulary

English translation

Nāu te rourou With your food basket
Nāku te rourou And my food basket
Ka ora ai te manuhiri The visitors will be satisfied with food

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