Storytellers wanted to bring Māori history to life for te reo Māori learners

A teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whangaroa in Matauri Bay, Papa Hemi Epiha, says the uniqueness of te reo Māori gives life to our stories.

Papa Hemi Epiha (Ngāti Rēhia) is in the 11% of Māori adults who, according to the last census, are fluent in te reo.

He loves it. Uses Māori in his work place, at home, when he’s socialising... at every opportunity he has in order to encourage its usage.

Papa Hemi is amongst a small minority in that sense. Since 1996 the number of Māori speakers has been declining slowly.

“Te reo is very much a part of who we are as Māori. The two are inextricably linked.”

Papa Hemi is also a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whangaroa in Matauri Bay. Like most te reo educators he would welcome new resources for students embracing the learning of the Māori language.

“We need to be using te reo Māori wherever and as often as we can. Our language is unique and gives life to our stories and histories,” said Papa Hemi.

“Imagine a world where you can tell your own stories, in your own reo. If we can normalise that we’re supporting these young people – both Māori and non Māori – who are making choices about the language they want to be educated in.”

The Ministry of Education is looking for te reo Māori storytellers to help bring Māori history to life for Māori language learners.

The Ministry’s Acting Head of Early Learning and Student Achievement, Pauline Cleaver, said it was looking for storytellers from iwi, hapū, whānau, historians, trusts and organisations to help tell Māori history.

“The initiative is twofold: provide high-quality language resources for te reo Māori learners, and support powerful education connections with iwi, whānau and communities who are critical in achieving high quality language and education outcomes for learners of te reo Māori,” she said.

“Māori language in education is a defining feature of Aotearoa’s education system and for te reo Māori to flourish the language needs to be supported within the education system and communities.”

The Government earmarked $1.9 million in creating new learning resources to be used in English and Māori medium pathways, where te reo Māori is taught to tamariki between 0­–18 years old.

To get started, the Ministry is looking for local stories or knowledge on:

New Zealand history

Stories related to the history of New Zealand e.g. Māori land wars, tangata rongonui, ngā kōrero o nehe rā.

Tuia – First Encounters 250

Stories connected to the first encounters between Māori and Pākehā 250 years ago. For example, traditions associated with ocean voyaging, navigation and discovery.

Women’s suffrage – celebrating 125 years of New Zealand women having the vote

Stories about people who have made a significant contribution to women’s rights in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more and submit a proposal

Successful applicants will work with our curriculum and production experts to develop their stories into a range of resources for the classroom (for example, digital, video, print).

This article was originally published in the Education Gazette

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