Te reo Māori language teaching has a positive future

Published: 18 Jun 2020
Early learning
Te reo Māori

There is widespread enthusiasm to improve the provision of te reo Māori teaching in English medium schools, driven by positive feelings towards the language and a strong sense of moral duty to its revitalisation, but the ability to do so is limited in many schools according to a new report Te Tāmata Huaroa released by ERO.

This report captures a snapshot of te reo Māori education in English medium schools and aims in part to reflect the role education has to play in the Government’s Maihi Karauna strategy for language revitalisation.

The report found many schools were including te reo Māori in their curriculum through classroom routines, karakia and waiata and indicates there is a desire to take this further.

However, there was evidence of a lack of explicit language teaching such as grammatical forms, speaking, reading and writing in te reo Māori and therefore students were not experiencing a curriculum which will develop conversational speakers.

ERO found that the primary obstacle to increased student proficiency is a relatively low level of te reo Māori knowledge within the teaching workforce coupled with low levels of knowledge and expertise in general second-language learning.

There is awareness of these obstacles and many school leaders are taking proactive steps to include increased provision as a strategic goal and improve the situation in their classrooms using skill specific recruitment and targeted professional learning and development. ERO has identified further opportunities including growing and extending the numbers of fluent speakers who work within the school sector, paying increased attention to the development of comprehensive resources to support teaching and extending partnerships with iwi.

ERO Deputy Chief Executive Evaluation and Review Māori Lynda Pura-Watson feels strongly that this work will have real world meaning for New Zealand education.

“This is an exciting exploration of the landscape of te reo Māori teaching on a real practical level but also puts education firmly in the centre of wider revitalisation of the language and the long-term goals of the Government.”

She went on to say that ERO wants to use this report as a springboard.

“We can take the findings from this report and others in the pipe line and use them to start real conversations about further development and improvement.”

ERO spoke to teachers and school leaders in 102 primary and secondary schools across Aotearoa to inform this report.