Swimming classes in Te Reo offered in Pukekohe

By Tumamao Harawira

The Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre in Pukekohe is offering te reo Māori swimming lessons for toddlers and young children.

The class was started as a way to bring more te reo Māori into the centre. Yesterday marked the start of classes, and the hope is that not just Māori but the wider community in Franklin will embrace te reo.

The centre came up with the idea to have Māori language swimming classes following discussions with staff and the community.

Hilarie Legg, who runs the centre, says it's a way of expanding the business and boosting inclusivity.

"We wanted to integrate more Māori language into our facility.

Language swimming lessons

Introducing te reo Māori into swimming lessons for tamariki

"As a community, I think it's essential that we have as much Māori language in our facility as possible. So we decided to do language swimming lessons and we found incredible teachers to take the lessons."

The teaching of the classes is left to Lyndin Mataroa Tonga and Sandra-Dee Nepia-Te Morunga, a couple of young Māori women who believe that te reo Māori is a plus while learning to swim.

Mataroa Tonga says, "It's good because the children get to learn te reo Māori while they are in the water."

Nepia-Te Morunga also believes that being able to take the classes in te reo will open up a whole new avenue for the centre.

Hands-on approach

"Just being able to expand our reo, in more ways than one. Kids learn doing it, they have to be hands-on. So this is one way for the next generation to pick it up."

Cindy Stewart, who is the coordinator for access and inclusion at the centre says the ability to cater for te reo Māori will be a massive advantage for the children taking swimming lessons.

"Building the confidence to do so, and having the support in facilities and organisations to do so is awesome. That's what gives our young ones the confidence to be themselves."

'Exciting to see it'

Te Kohanga Reo o Ngā Hau e Whā in Pukekohe was the first given an opportunity to bring tamariki down for a lesson.

Whāea Nikita Naea brought the tamariki from the kohanga reo because it meant another environment for her tamariki to be able to converse in te reo.

"In this area of Auckland, there are only a few speakers of te reo. So it is exciting to see this initiative started. It's a Māori language initiative not at the marae but at the pools."