Te Teko Kōhanga Reo celebrates 'unique powers' of their tamariki

By Aroha Mane
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A new project celebrating children living with unique disabilities was launched today at Tūteao Marae in Te Teko. The Tamaariki project is an inclusive early childhood education approach led by Te Teko Kōhanga Reo and supported by both the Ministry of Education and the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust.

Patupaiarehe, Spiderman, Superman, and even the Incredible Hulk were some of the special guests at Tuteao Marae. 

The theme was a celebration of the unique superpowers of tamariki.

The initiative began with Te Teko Kōhanga Reo, where whānau decided that children with special needs should remain in their communities.

Kōhanga Reo teacher Lorraine Hale says, “Someone from within the kōhanga needs to believe in them, if they don't, how can the child thrive?  It's ok to have reservations but if you persevere you'll get a better understanding of what the child needs.  If you don't try, the child will miss out.”

For one mother it was the best decision she ever made.

“We came from some other playcentres.  When we got to Te Teko kōhanga and they let him do whatever he wanted, I didn't have to worry about him.  The whaeas treated him like a normal child, like there’s nothing wrong with him,” says Sarah Marks.

Te Teko Kōhanga Reo's achievements have been recognised by the Kōhanga Reo National Trust and Ministry of Education.

Te Kōhanga Reo CEO Angus Hartley says, “This kaupapa, 'Tamaariki', really reflects our vision for our children that are unique in kōhanga reo.  Our children need help and they need to be able to be...in the spectrum of kōhanga reo to learn the language.”

Kōhanga reo advocate Kuini Reedy says, “Maintaining the essence of their ancestors and family is the main focus for this group.”

Through identification, understanding and awareness it is hoped that the achievements made in Te Teko can be shared with other kōhanga reo, whānau, hapū and iwi.