Victory Primary School students Kahu Paul and Yozarn Peeni share a hongi during kapa haka practice. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Te reo resurgence

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Te reo Maori is undergoing a resurgence in the region, say local education providers which have a record number of people enrolled to learn the language.

Te reo teacher Christine Piper says the significant rise in Nelson is mirrored around the country and she says the increase in learners is coming predominantly from the non-Maori population.

“About 60 per cent of our learners are non-Maori.”

And she’s confident this trend will continue.

“You see this in discussions whether it should be compulsory at schools and te reo signage happening around the country.”

Christine says her organisation, Te Atarangi Te Tauhi, has been at capacity for new te reo learners.

“We have over 250 students enrolled in classes across the region.”

She says, recently, they have had to turn students away.
Christine says the initiative is about encouraging te reo to become normalised.

Victory Primary School is also one of two local schools to offer full immersion te reo classes.

NMIT te reo tutor Craig Shepard says it also has high numbers and says increased media coverage has helped. He says iwi are also putting a lot of effort to push te reo as a priority.

“I have seven in the class that I teach, which is the full time day class, last year I had three.”

Craig has also seen an increase in night class attendance.

“The night classes here are all full with around 30 students each night class and sometimes more.” He says the classes are continually growing, one with 54 students.

Craig says, without a Māori language we don’t have a Maori culture.

“It is something I love and will always be around, it is me.”

Christine says an average student entering her classroom who has been raised in New Zealand knows 300 Maori words.

The hope is people will start to use what they know and act brave enough to speak to others. She says it is crucial to protect the language for future generations.

“Every voice counts.”