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Post date: Wednesday, 12 April 2023

Me kōrero tātou: critical conversations about growing te reo Māori in schools

By Nicola Bright and Esther Smaill

Pou reo are critical to reo Māori development in English-medium schools. Our recent findings report, He reo ka tipu i ngā kura, explores the role of Māori and non-Māori pou reo across Aotearoa. The report shines a spotlight on pou reo identity and positioning and examines the challenges that pou reo encounter as they grow reo Māori capability in their schools.  

One of the big challenges pou reo were grappling concerned how they were going to build their school’s capacity to provide reo Māori teaching and learning in order to fulfil the reo Māori aspirations of whānau. This is a localised challenge that requires strategic and long-term planning.  

The larger scale systemic challenges that pou reo are dealing with also require a strategic and well thought out approach. As the profile and status of te reo Māori continues to grow within English-medium schools, there has been a mixed response from some school communities, and we heard numerous stories about pou reo encountering institutional racism. Many of the pou reo we spoke with were addressing that challenge head on by having critical conversations with their colleagues.  

As part of He reo ka tipu i ngā kura, kairangahau from NZCER have developed Ētahi pātai huritao hei tautoko i ngā matapaki arohaehaeReflective questions to support critical conversations: A tool for pou reo. This tool is designed to support pou reo with having critical conversations about their positioning and motivations as pou reo, their reo Māori aspirations for their school, and how they might respond to negative and racist comments.  

What do the reflective questions cover?  

The reflective questions align with themes raised in He reo ka tipu i ngā kura concerning identity and positioning, te reo Māori, and responses to racism. They are designed to encourage pou reo to think deeply about:  

  • their role in supporting both adults and tamariki to learn te reo Māori
  • their motivations and aspirations for teaching and learning te reo Māori 
  • the impacts of colonisation on teaching and learning te reo Māori  
  • the intersections between learning te reo Māori and the Aotearoa New Zealand’s Histories curriculum  
  • how they can respond to racism against Māori  

Pou reo – both Māori and non-Māori – have crucial roles to play when it comes to growing te reo Māori in English-medium schools. We hope that the conversations prompted by these reflective questions provide pou reo with insights and understandings that help them to progress this important mahi. 

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