Free weekly evening te reo classes are giving Aotea locals the chance to engage with the Māori language.
Ākonga (students) from all walks of life attend the three-hour lessons, which are held in the north and south of the island (at the Te Kura o Okiwi and Aotea Learning Hub). They kicked off in July 2023, will run for 40 weeks, and are funded by Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board.
“Having these classes has been beneficial for the motu, as there is a desire for it,” says kaiako (teacher) Nancy Tait.
“Not only do these classes give our Māori students an opportunity to learn their native language, it also allows our non-Māori students to find that connection to the place that they call home.”
Nancy says a total of 37 people attend the classes across both locations.
Local board member Chris Ollivier is one of the students in the Aotea Learning Hub class and describes himself as “pretty much a beginner”.
He says there is a broad age range and a mix of beginners through to some people with reasonably good skills at te reo who want to further develop their understanding and knowledge.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a very embracing environment which is why I wanted to do it. I’ve been trying to skill myself up on te reo using online classes but found that difficult,” explains Chris.
“We’ve been doing it in groups and helping each other and I find the process of working together much more efficient in terms of learning. It’s been really good for me. And that’s the feedback I’ve been getting from lots of others as well.
“It’s making me feel part of a whānau. Most of the people in the class already know each other, and it’s helping to build and improve those relationships. People in the community are connecting with each other better.”
Locals who already have a basic knowledge of te reo Māori are still able to join the classes, although Nancy says complete beginners may find it’s not suitable to join at this stage in the course because they have already covered the basics.
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