School celebrates 21 years of reo Māori immersion

By Taroi Black

Finlayson Park School's Te Roopu Reo Rua is celebrating its 21st anniversary alongside other bilingual units in their faculty.

Principal Shirley Maihi says such occasions may be rare "unless the government puts a lot of money into raising the numbers of reo Māori speakers in teachers college.”

The four language units in Finlayson Park School accommodate the aspirations of the wider Manurewa community and include te reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan and even some Mandarin in addition to  English.

“Kei te hari taku ngākau to see the work.  It's just been wonderful to see the development of our students and our families because we couldn't do it without our families' support,” says Maihi.

Finlayson Park School will continue to support the development of bi-culturalism and foster first language speakers.

Teacher Aroha Ngaropo says, “We want the school to get bigger. Since the start the bilingual unit only had three classrooms, now there are ten. It's a school within a school.”

However, the school has taken on a new initiative called 'Mauri Tu' which is run by Chris Wiremu, a former graduate from Te Whare Tū Taua o Aotearoa.

Wiremu is currently helping to develop Māori traditional weaponry skills and sustainable practices for students. 

“Our purpose is to nurture and teach these kids while they’re young, the right aspects and values which will help mold them into Māori role models.”

 In the meantime the school can blow out the candles on 21 years of a job well done.