More than 40, 000 people have graduated through Kōhanga Reo since its inception 35 years ago and in a first, a plan for an Alumni has been created for the former students and staff.
For former Kōhanga Reo pre-schooler Kingi Kiriona, feeding the Māori language to children and future generations is at the heart of the new Alumni.
"If I maintain my connection through the Alumni, it will benefit my child when I eventually send her to Kōhanga Reo," he said.
The now language expert and his partner have been tasked with setting up the alumni called, He Manu Pīrere nō Te Kōhanga Reo.
“The pīrere is a type of bird that has left the nest, so and is an appropriate description of the former Kōhanga Reo students.”
Kiriona says much like they, we or anyone who has flown the nest, but this is a call from the nest to those students to return to help the cause.
The first Kohanga Reo, Kōkiri o Pukeatua was opened in Wainuiomata in 1982. Many of those who have come schooled at Kōhanga are now movers and shakers in Māoridom.
“Some of those former students are now leaders in Māoridom. Some of them are iwi leaders, leaders of Māori initiatives, they revitalise the Maori language, which is the reason why Kōhanga Reo was established.”
As an added incentive a Whānau Card has been created for members who are able to purchase discounted items from a range of stores.
“A portion of the payment of your purchase will be donated to my Kōhanga Te Kōhanga Reo of Taniwaka, so they receive the benefits.”
In the future, alumni members will also be eligible to apply for scholarships once established.