"We don't want to stoke the fire" - Principal responds to netball te reo complaints

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Tauranga students attending Te Wharekura o Mauao have allegedly had complaints made against them for speaking te reo during an inter-school netball game.  It's not the first time the school has faced the issue.

Last year there were similar complaints from opposing teams towards Te Wharekura o Mauao supporters, thinking they were insulting their players on the court.  Another complaint concerned an official who spoke Māori to one of the wharekura students. 

Heywood Kuka, principal of the school, says the students themselves feel a little pukuriri (angry) when they hear the complaints from other people.

“They don’t really know how to react.  They get a little angry and confused and sometimes they express that on the playing field... it's hard for them because they're so young,” he says.

Despite the obvious frustrations, Kuka is not interested in "singling" out a certain school or team as being responsible for the complaints. 

“We don't want to stoke the fire,” he says.

Kuka says his concern is assuring his students and coaches that they are doing nothing wrong by speaking te reo during their sports games- or at any time for that matter.