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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 09, 2009

Night class cutbacks cripple reo learning

A Maori language educator says Education Minister Anne Tolley's cutbacks to funding for night classes will set back efforts to revitalise te reo.

Neria Mataira says over the past four decades thousands of people have learned Maori using Te Ataarangi method, which uses coloured rods to generate simple conversations.

It has led many into jobs in kohanga and kura... in broadcasting... and in government agencies.

She says the massive reduction in the number of schools where night classes are held will affect those who are critical for maintaining the culture.

It affects “those who have an obligation to their marae in terms of being a potential speaker or a kuamatua kuia on the marae who is being asked to look after the putanga of that marae and are wanting to develop their language skills in order to meet that sort of commitment,” Ms Mataira says.

Te Ataarangi is also popular with parents in full time work who want to keep up with their tamariki going through kohanga and kura.


If night classes are cut, more people may be looking to learn te reo online.
Waikato University te reo and computer sciences student Paora Mato is working on more effective ways of to teach Maori remotely.

He says most web-based learning systems are tailored towards mainstream thinking.

That's why he's looking at how open-source digital library software can be used to develop Maori language learning resources.

“For learning te reo you need to design a whole lot of activities that are purely focused on a Maori way of doing things. It’s like the difference between mainstream schooling and kura kaupapa. You need to apply that to computing,” Mr Mato says.

His masters thesis project was inspired by Waikato University's Flexible Language Acquisition (FLAX) project, which uses digital library software to present practical exercises for overseas students who are learning English.


Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says plans to spend $3 million of Maori development funding supporting Maori Television's Rugby world cup coverage is drawing fire from Maori ... but it's the right thing to do.

She says the party has been getting emails from Maori saying Te Puni Kokiri should be helping people get through the recession, rather than broadcasting sport.

But she says there are long term benefits in the deal, under which the ministry would buy programming around the channel's free to air coverage which highlights Maori language, culture and business success.

“It’s very important to Maori to be showcasing the cup but more importantly to be enabling of those who would want to get involved in showcasing what they’re doing as well,” Mrs Turia says.

She was not involved in the decision to back Maori Television's bid.


In a move that harks back to his days as a Maori Affairs community officer during the Tu Tangata era, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples plans to fund social workers through his Te Puni Kokiri budget.

Dr Sharples and Prime Minister are at Waipatu Marae in Hastings this morning to launch a scheme to fund marae to grow vegetable gardens.

He says it's the first of a number of innovative programmes he's intending to launch out of the ministry's baseline funding, which he can spend without Cabinet approval.

“Later on in this month and next month I’m launching programmes to put community workers out in the community groups, not with TPK, but TPK’s helping them become established, and they will work amongst dysfunctional families, they will work amongst pregnant mothers who might needs helps, they will work amongst truant kids and so on and get into the families and help make those families strong,” Dr Sharples says.

The programmes will be under the umbrella of the whanau ora policy developed by Maori Party co-leader and associate health and social development minister Tariana Turia, who is also a Tu Tangata-era Maori affairs community officer.


A South Auckland midwife says a lot of Maori first-time mothers are going into births under-prepared.

Turuki Health Care in Mangere are running a series of Wahine Waananga to help women have healthy pregnancies with a focus on drug-free, natural births.

Facilitator and midwife Gaelene Lovell says, a lot of Maori don't like going to mainstream antenatal classes, and usually think they are good birthers.

“Our midwives are finding our mothers are going into their births and they weren’t informed not just about what was happening in their birth but what their options were while they were birthing. There has also been an increase in the number of first time mothers who end up with medical interventions, and some of that is because they are not well-prepared,” Ms Lovell says.

Most Maori women in South Auckland don't consider attending antenatal classes is a priority with everything else going on in their lives.


A Maori artist and educator says breaking into overseas markets has helped Maori artists recognise their true worth.

Derek Llardelli is in Porirua for the Maori Art Market, where Maori painters, potters, weavers, carvers and glass blowers have been joined by indigenous artists from North America.

He says the market grew out of trips Maori have been making to North America to establish bonds with indigenous artists and galleries.

“What we realised out there was it also needs to come home so our own at home can get the same experience. We probably don’t realise our worth as a country and what we have to offer the wider spectrum of art in the world until we go overseas and come home again. Then we begin to realise yes we do have something to offer,” Mr Llardelli says.

More than $3 million of work by 200 artists will be on display at Te Rauparaha Arena until the Maori Market closes on Sunday.


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