The participants have dedicated about 15 hours each per week to this full-time tertiary course, which has been delivered by tutors, Rebecca Tamati and Terina King, from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa ki Ōtautahi. Preparatory School Art teacher, Pip Dinsenbacher is one of the participants, and is grateful the Wānanga has offered St Andrew’s this pilot workplace programme. “The Wānanga has recognised a need for people who are keen to start their te reo Māori experience, as well as being able to work full-time.”
Pip says the Wānanga’s vision for the collective success of its tauira (students) is highly evident in the way the course is delivered. “We all have different levels of experience, however Bex and Terina do a great job of helping us work together to ensure that no one is left behind. Their sense of aroha, compassion and patience for everyone as a learner is the most incredible philosophy.”
The weekly in-person lessons start with a mindfulness session, and include lots of fun ways to learn, including games, karakia, quizzes, charades, and script writing. “We’ve also learnt a lot about tikanga, Māori protocols, and pepeha, which is already influencing the curriculum in the Preparatory School,” says Pip. A follow-up email details the students’ learning for the rest of the week. Their work is regularly assessed throughout the year.
Supporting his whanau was a key motivator for Commerce teacher, Steve Aldhamland, to join the course. “My wife and daughter are Ngāti Kahungunu and both are learning te reo Māori.”
Steve has enjoyed the innovative and fun learning styles adopted in the classes. “We do lots of online work, but also do very active work, play games, use rākau sticks, tell silly stories and sing waiata.”
In the classroom, he is starting to incorporate his newfound language skills. “I use Māori greetings and whakataukī as much as possible, and am keen to use my pepeha in appropriate situations.”
English teacher, Linda Garden, is originally from Zimbabwe, and says her primary exposure to te reo Māori was through her own children’s schooling. “Teaching English has made me increasingly aware of the need for a more comprehensive understanding of te reo Māori to access the historical context and cultural heritage of New Zealand literature, both of which underpin my subject.”
She says connecting with a diverse range of people in a range of roles from other parts of the school has been a highlight of the course. “We laugh a lot, and the environment is genuinely encouraging and supportive. This is important, as when learning a new language, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and fallible.”
Director of International Students and Exchanges, Pāle Tauti, says his children, who attend Tuahiwi Primary School, which delivers bi-lingual lessons in te reo Māori and English, were his prime motivation for signing up. “I am part Māori (Te Ati Awa–Te Waipounamu) and Samoan, and felt it was vital for me to pick up the language so I can support their te reo Māori and we can enjoy this journey of learning together.”
Pāle has enjoyed working with a ‘tight group of amazing colleagues’ who have supported each other through the journey. “We have created a space where we can make lots of errors and learn with a laugh but all in the spirit of having fun while learning.”
Pip also says the connections made within the group have been incredibly powerful. “We are all so different and hardly knew each other at the start of the year, but have grown into a close-knit group, and really enjoy working and learning together.”
Throughout the year, a group of highly motivated staff from across all areas of the College have supported each other on a unique journey, learning Level 1 Te Reo Māori.