Te Kōhanga o Ēkara at The Mulberry Bush has been operating in Brisbane Australia for three years. Sharing te reo and tikanga Māori with their tamariki has been their drive since the centre's inception, however, issues of funding and resources have presented its challenges.
Kaiako Sharna Te Hau says, “We're dedicated to providing an environment for our children to live in a Māori world with our teachings and customs so they can see their culture every day and know where they come from and who they are.”
More than 50,000 Māori are estimated to live in Queensland and the whānau from Ēkara are hoping to eventually expand their services.
“In regards to funding, we tried to expand last year but it didn't eventuate. So, our focus at present is about maintaining this language nest. In the future, we can look at opening other facilities in Brisbane.”
Pathways for the tamariki to learn the language after they have finished at the kōhanga are also being considered.
“We have no full immersion primary facilities at this stage but in time hopefully full immersion or bilingual will be available.”
Despite the challenges, Māori education is proving to be beneficial for the whole whānau.
“This is an opportunity for our children to learn, not just the children but also their parents. As soon as the children come into this forum you can see the desire of the parents. It's an opportunity for the language to have a presence at home. Overall it's beneficial for the children and their parents.”
In the meantime, the kōhanga is working on new programmes and resources to cater for their children's needs.