Tears of joy over kōhanga reo funding announcement

By Tema Hemi

The government has announced that over 2,250 kōhanga reo staff throughout Aotearoa are set for a major boost in funding.  It is news which brings one of the movement's staunchest advocates to tears of joy. 

Spirits have been lifted throughout the whole kōhanga reo movement at the news today.  

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust member Te Waihoroi Shortland says, "The most significant thing for me about the minister's announcement is both his and the Crown's acknowledgement, of kōhanga reo and that it requires its own unique approach in direction and support."

The move will increase existing pay rates for kaiako and pay kaiako and kaimahi working as volunteers.  

Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis says, "This is a day for the kōhanga reo movement.  It's only a start, there are still works that need to be put in to place and planning within comings months will be a priority."

Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Mokopuna teacher Melissa Nepe Apatu says for many years kōhanga reo have been under-resourced.

"The wider families are exhausting every avenue in terms of  raising the much-needed funding so that we are able to pay our workers, to buy resources, and to go on outings.  So yes, we need that financial support," says Apatu.

Buildings will also get a much needed revamp.  $8.5mil will cover costs associated with the state of kōhanga reo facilities.  The Ministry of Education is working with the national trust to assess kōhanga buildings to identify the extent of their issues.

Apatu ays, "For long now we have been here because of our passion for the kaupapa and our mokopuna, but unfortunately love doesn't pay the bills or petrol and those types of things."

$2.5mil is also earmarked to make urgent improvements to the trust's and kōhanga reo ICT capacity and capabilities. 

The funding rate increase for kōhanga reo staff will come into effect as of July 1st.