Kōhanga Reo centres advised to remain closed during Level 3

By James Perry

Kōhanga whānau nationwide have been advised to remain closed under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

The announcement was made by the Kōhanga Reo CE Angus Hartley with the support of the National Board.

As a movement that has been to protect the health and well-being of our vulnerable pakeke, kaumātua and mokopuna, they believe the recent advice from both the Education and Health ministries are not consistent with the risks that exist within kōhanga reo.

During the Level 4 Lockdown period, kaimahi have been contacted for the latest information from across Aotearoa:

  • A third of kōhanga reo kaimahi have identified themselves in the high-risk groups
  • Nearly 80% of kōhanga reo say they do not feel safe to return to mahi at Alert Level 3

The Kōhanga Reo Movement has long promoted a safe, nurturing environment where mokopuna can flourish in te ao Māori.

They say it is difficult to achieve these ideals when kaiako are uncertain and anxious about COVID-19, as well as concerns for their ageing workforce and other disparities.

Hartley says they also do not want kōhanga reo to be a vector of COVID-19 transmission in their communities.

Kōhanga reo kaimahi, however, have advised they are prepared to continue distance learning, with the Trust actively encouraging this with their own programme to supplement their efforts.

Kōhanga reo may open in the Alert Level 3 period should their respective kōhanga reo whānau decide to.

If that happens, the Board advises strict adherence to the guidelines from the Education and Health ministries to ensure safe operations.