Te Tohu a Tā Kingi Ihaka award recipient Tāwhiri Williams says the solution to the Māori teacher shortage is simple - upskill existing teachers in te reo Māori and tikanga.
180,000 young New Zealanders participate in Māori language education across Māori and English medium settings. However, Tāwhiri Williams says te reo Māori should be learnt by all.
"Te reo Māori is the original and indigenous language of this country and it should have a presence in all schools."
The government is investing $7.6 million over four years in Māori language education curriculum resources and Education Minister Nikki Kaye has announced an extension to Auckland's $20 million teacher shortage plan.
Williams says, "They want more teachers with knowledge of te reo Māori and tikanga Māori but they also need to be passionate teachers and good people."
New Zealand's Māori teacher shortage could worsen if te reo Māori becomes compulsory. Tāwhiri Williams suggests that existing teachers could be trained in te reo and tikanga to address the shortage of Māori teachers.
"This wānanga is open to every race and culture. If they want to come here to learn te reo and tikanga, they're welcome to come here. I'll teach them all so they can go back to all the schools as fluent speakers of te reo with strong knowledge of tikanga so they can go on and teach it themselves."
Tāwhiri Williams and his wife Kaa Williams were recipients of Te Tohu a Tā Kingi Ihaka at the prestigious Te Waka Toi Awards. The awards recognise excellence in Māori achievement.