Students lead the way in teaching te reo Māori

By Jessica Tyson

Torbay School on Auckland's North Shore is running a pilot programme to get students teaching others te reo Māori.

Two days a week teams of Year 4 to 6 senior students tutor Year 3 classes in waiata and te reo lessons.

The seniors say they are very passionate about the Māori language and culture so enjoy teaching it to the younger students.

“We are confident speaking in front of an audience. We like teaching year threes because we like interacting with them and they're very fun to teach,” says one senior student.

During the lessons, the seniors show the juniors how they can incorporate te reo and waiata into their daily class routine.

“It’s great to see them enjoying learning the songs and seeing their faces when we walk into the class,” says a senior.

The classroom teacher also learns with the class and makes sure everything runs smoothly.

Torbay School Principal Gary O'Brien says using older students as tutors has been a revelation.

“It has spin-offs for students, both young and old as well as for the teachers.  It certainly is helping to embed te reo into our culture here at Torbay,” he says.

The lessons are from the Wai Ako programme and Torbay School was the first school in Aotearoa to use it.  

“We are working hard to develop our programmes and culture around teaching te reo and Wai Ako breaks down some of the barriers our teachers face, it is a superb innovation in the area of teaching te reo,” says the principal.

About Wai Ako

Wai Ako is an innovative online musical te Reo Māori programme for teachers in English medium primary schools. It is closely aligned to the curriculum for te Reo Māori.

Wai Ako, Learning Songs, uses music videos to get children and teachers singing basic phrases. Teachers learn pronunciation, phrase structure and vocabulary along with their students.

Children do not have to wait until their teacher is confident to start learning.  Wai Ako mobilises ordinary classroom teachers so every child has the chance to learn the basics.  This frees up specialists to extend language and delve more deeply into aspects of tikanga.  

Wai Ako was launched in September 2017 and already is being used by more than 2,000 children in schools throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.