Hamilton's Te Kōhao Hauora opens new Puna Reo

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

National Urban Māori Authority member Te Kōhao Health have opened Hamilton city's first Puna Reo. The Māori early childhood centre was opened by patron Te Makau Ariki Atawhai Paki, wife of Kiingi Tuheitia.

Te Puna Reo o Kōhao is name of the new total immersion Māori early education centre. 

Managing Director Tureiti Moxon said, "We are preparing them for Māori-medium schools. To listen to the language, to Māori lessons, teachings from the bush, all areas of their environment."

Te Kōhao Health also unveiled two new carved pou in honour of local hapū, Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Mahanga and also Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura.

"These posts are for the well-being of the spirit, of Māori beliefs and customs. The Puna Reo is for the well-being of the language, furthermore for the well-being of our cherished mokopuna who live in Hamilton," said Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura spokesperson, Rahui Papa.

Last year Moxon sought funding from the Ministry of Education to establish the 100% Māori speaking Puna Reo, beside it's bilingual Kōhungahunga for newborn to three years old. The ministry has foot half of the $1.2mill build cost.

"The majority of our children don't speak Māori. The majority of our parent's don't know Māori customs and protocols. We want to provide a place for families to grow in the Māori language," said Moxon.

The Puna Reo has a capacity for 40 preschoolers aged three to four years old. The Puna plan to start with around 10 tamariki by the end of the month.