Papatoetoe Central School opens Māori language café for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

By Marena Mane

Papatoetoe Central School in Tāmaki Makaurau did something unique to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori  last week.

It created a Wharekai Reo, a reo Māori-speaking cafe for its students. 

Te Ao Māori News joined the students at the Wharekai Reo.

What better way to encourage students to speak the reo than with kai?

Papatoetoe Central School Principal, Sam Holt (Ngāti Kahungunu) said he decided to do something different from what they always do.

“We're wanting to teach not just te reo Māori but also tikanga Māori through authentic experiences so we decided, we would put on a Wharekai Reo.”

Te reo and kai

“It's a chance for our students to come in and speak as much te reo Māori as possible in the context of ordering some kai at the café.”

Kaiako, Nadene Rosieur (Ngāti Raukawa) says the cafe's not just filling the puku of their Māori students but it's also lifting their self-esteem.  

“Our Māori children - just being acknowledged, just happy to be acknowledged and that it's inclusive for them now, rather than them being the minority and it's acknowledging their cultural identities, so it's making them feel good as well. It's normalising it in the classroom,” Rosieur says.

“So many of our Indian students have already had to learn English as a second language because they might speak Punjabi, Hindi or Gujarati at home. Here, the opportunity and they see it as an opportunity, is to learn another language, te reo Māori, they just jump at it,” Holt says.

At  home in te reo

Māori council students say they feel encouraged to share Te Reo Māori in their special school cafe.

“Yes I do love talking te reo Māori even though I don't know much te reo Māori. It still means a lot to me because I just love the language and how many cool words there are to learn and practise so te reo means a lot to me,” Year 6 student Kainoa Tusini says.

“I enjoy te reo Māori because in my class we share Māori words and it's important to me because it's like my culture but, most of all, it's like the best culture, Year 6 student Nikyah Savage says.

Papatoetoe Central School hopes to promote the reo not only for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and not only for Mahuru Māori but going into the future.