New schools and marae language partnership

By Raniera Harrison
  • Northland

A Northland area school principal is proposing a collaborative approach to language revitalisation which would see Northland secondary schools work in tandem with marae.

"To work collaboratively and effectively with marae in the region to create a positive Māori language revitalisation strategy" says Patariki Toi, principal of Opononi Area School.

Representatives from 24 secondary schools around the Northland region arrived at Ōpononi today to discuss some of the pressing issues of the day.

"The language of these children comes from experience. They've spent time with their elders and it's this experience that sees them flourish in the reo" says Te Reo Māori teacher at Northland College, Beaumyn Wihongi.

Judges in the Sir James Henare section say that there is credit to be found in language variations. 

"I want to hear the innate differences between the language variations of Hokianga to that of Taumārere, to embody the geneaology between Uenuku and Kaharau.  Not just hearing a standardised Māori language," says MP for Tāmaki Makaurau and Minister of Whānau Ora Peeni Henare, who was judging in the bilingual section of the competition.

Te Reo Māori teacher Beaumyn Wihongi agrees, saying there is no benefit in the immersion of the students in a foreign language.

"That language has it's own set of dictating factors.  However, here we have our own strict set of language conventions that dictate a language that is oft heard elsewhere."

Toi says that the benefits this strategy can provide to marae will be found in the growth, strengthening and leading of the new generation of speakers.

"Schools should not be left to work alone, with marae working alone to foster the language and speakers.  We need to come together to fulfill a strategy to achieve such."

The competition will run until Friday.