Teachers from Pegasus Bay School share how they incorporate te reo Māori into the classroom – in particular through karakia, pepeha, music, and games.
Vicki McKenzie: I wanted to put more variety of strategies into my teaching and learning with the tamariki that we work with and I just wanted lots of different things in my kete that I could use to engage the tamariki with what we’re doing in our learning community. And, I felt that for me myself, I had lots of kupu that I was using but it was becoming a little bit diluted so I wanted to look at ways that I could increase the level of te reo that we use and make it natural in our learning community and really lift the kids’ understanding and use of te reo.
Aine Elliot: We start each day with a karakia in the morning and the whole learning community comes together and does that outside.
Students: Whakataka te hau ki te uru, whakataka te hau ki te tonga. Kia mākinakina ki uta, kia mātaratara ki tai. E hī ake ana te atākura. He tio, he huka, he hauhu. Tihē Mauri Ora!
Vicki McKenzie: So, every morning we have the first 15 to 20 minutes and we meet together and do the roll in te reo. We say, “Ko wai to ingoa?” and the tamariki have to answer in te reo Māori. We talk about how we’re feeling and then we also practice our mihi or pepeha in that time as well.
Student: Ko Mave toku ingoa no reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Vicki McKenzie: We’re looking at opportunities to extend the sentence structure of the tamariki so they’ve got a really good grounding, but they can put more kupu in and just make them feel more confident when they’re speaking.
Children singing: Ka puawai te reakatahi e.
Gina Keating: Because I’m passionate about music, I have integrated as many waiata and things into the environment as I can. The tamariki also love rakau so on a Friday I sit down and do some rakau with the tamariki who want to do it. I think it needs to be something that they’re driven to choose for themselves and they love e papa and if I haven’t said let’s do rakau, they’re all jumping up saying, “Whaea Gina, we haven’t done rakau!” So definitely I’ve integrated music.
Aine Elliot: Some of the other things are some of the games, some of the energisers we’ve introduced and the kids love them. I think the things that we’ve found key have been making it really manageable. So, we don’t do more than 15 minutes instructional time because there’s so much pressure on the timetable as it is, to be able to fit much more than that is unrealistic. So it was making it daily is helpful, making it manageable, and also ensuring that it’s throughout the day so it’s not standalone. The circle time is a basis for it but we do try to make an effort to substitute Māori words for English words where possible and just kind of flow it through the day.
Vicki McKenzie: Use some of these kupu.
Gina Keating: Did you finish looking at the pukapuka with Selina?
Vicki McKenzie: Okay e tū whānau. Tino pai to mahi koutou.
Aine Elliot: And just keeping it small and regular has been really, really helpful and successful.
Vicki McKenzie: We’ve gathered things in our local environment and we encourage the tamariki to bring those things in. We have support around the learning community by way of kupu and posters so that they can look and learn from those and we use those as a prompt as well. Because what we’re trying to do is learn ourselves as well, so we need those prompts. So at each teaching station there are posters and things around for us to refer to and then we can refer those to the tamariki as well so there is support for us and the tamariki so we’re all learning together.
Gina Keating: I think some key points of building an inclusive environment is being open yourself and not being afraid to try. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I’ll say phrases and then realise halfway through, I don’t remember how to finish it in Māori so I have to say it in English and smile with myself and think, you know, but I gave it a go. So I was saying, you are the tuakana because you are the little group who are going to teach the other tamariki how to ask, “Kei te pēhea koe?”