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Focus: Te Reo Māori and Languages


Snapshot Auckland 2017 raises some challenging statistics on learning of te reo Māori and other languages in schools.

Last year 3,148 students learnt te reo Māori more than half the time, most in kura kaupapa or Māori immersion units. But nearly seven out of 10 Māori students received little or no te reo Māori at school, which is hugely disappointing.

A recent NZCER survey shows most primary and intermediate teachers are using at least some Māori words in class and are willing to do more.

But there needs to be a strategy and funding to build teacher capacity. It should start with training more teachers who are already fluent in te reo so, first, Māori students can get more and better te reo teaching and, then, all students can have it as a core subject.

The snapshot shows teaching of Chinese languages in schools has leapt as a result of government funding for Asian languages. It demonstrates what’s possible with even a small amount of funding when parents and kids want to learn a language, and schools want to provide it.  Similarly, the adding of Samoan to NCEA has seen the language grow and now stabilise in secondary schools. 

However, it is a real concern to see learning of other languages in secondary schools down significantly and over a long period. Schools are struggling to provide languages and to recruit and retain teachers. Often it only takes the loss of one teacher for a language to be dropped.