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Application of Te Tiriti and Te Reo Māori in the Classroom/School

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 2389 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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PART 1: Unpacking aspects of Te Tiriti

a. The Principle

Three core Treaty of Waitangi principles, derived from the agreements between The European Crown and Māori people of New Zealand, must be considered in all aspects of New Zealand living. The principles of partnership, protection and participation provide guidance for how New Zealand can produce fair education for all students whilst providing them opportunities to acquire knowledge of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga.

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The Treaty of Waitangi principle of protection is about actively protecting Māori knowledge, cultures, values, and other taonga (Ministry of Education, 2012). Identity, language and culture are important expressions for Māori and it is vital that they are protected and utilised throughout New Zealand education. Encouraging students use of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga throughout their learning journey creates the core of a culturally located learner. Ka Hikitia (Ministry of Education, 2007) emphasises that “culture counts” and conveys schools must make a commitment to “knowing, respecting and valuing who students are, where they come from and building on what they bring with them” (page 20). As New Zealand students are developing their identities they need to understand New Zealand’s unique cultural heritage. Therefore they need opportunities to learn te reo Māori and gain knowledge and experience of important Māori concepts and customs, with further opportunities to compare and contrast these with their own or other cultures. Incorporating insights for all students into te ao Māori and Māori world views can be done by linking Māori language and culture throughout everyday learning in many contexts across the curriculum. For example, during mathematics learning incorporation of māori terms can be learnt such as hautau for fraction, hauwhā for quarter and toru hauwhā for three quarters. Even small incorporations of te reo into everyday classroom practice can protect the language from being lost or forgotten.

The principle of protection also involves protecting Māori rights and interests. It is important that New Zealand students understand the Treaty of Waitangi so that throughout their lifetime they can continue striving towards equality and fair living in our country. It is important to note that the principle of protection must be actively promoted and fulfilled. An active role must be taken to protect the taonga of Te Ao Māori.  For example, as my TE school is a catholic school all children should be given the opportunity to understand key aspects of the culture and spirituality of Māori alongside the catholic religious education. Integration of traditional Māori ideas, beliefs and values must be supported to protect te ao Māori views and te reo Māori through education.

b. The Discussion

My TE school strives to achieve success in all three principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. This was evident in school wide as well as classroom practices. Through observation I found that Te Reo Māori was integrated into the schools everyday practice for example songs sung during school assembly and songs for church were often in Te Reo. Karakia were well known by the students and they were confident in their explanation of most of the words and topics they were singing about. Māori cultures and traditions were also integrated through school activities. Kapa Haka was available for all students to practice and a time was set before assembly each week to display this learning to whānau and community who wished to attend. By actively using te reo Māori in everyday school activities the students are encouraged to support the protection of the language, reducing chances of the language being forgotten or the value of the taonga being lost. Further interesting aspects of Te Reo being used school wide was class number signs in te reo on buildings and introductions by staff and management to students frequently incorporating te reo. This continuous use and visibility encourages use and promotes the value of the language.

Classroom practices also encouraged protection of Te Ao Māori as continuous learning and use of Māori language was incorporated. Greetings, praise and commands were frequently used in the classroom as well as learning of new words which related to specific curriculum learning. The morning greeting and roll was completed in te reo Māori and then often morning prayers chosen and read by students were karakia or prayers translated from English. During curriculum learning I noticed some teachers would refer to some concepts by Māori terms.

Further classroom practice incorporating the protection principle was the learning of students’ pepehas. While I was at the TE school year 5 and 6 students were writing and performing their pepehas. Students were required to consult with their whānau to understand more about where they had come from. During this students were encouraged to learn more about their whānau history and also make connections to students in their class by listening to shared pepeha. This provided opportunities for students to make links with their own histories to Māori histories and those around them. This connection building helps to protect knowledge of Māori ancestry. Verbal feedback was given to students about their success in pronunciation, ability to recite not read their pepehas and also how to improve these areas when reciting their pepeha in the future. From this small assessment students were encouraged to remember their pepehas and understand knowing your pepeha is valued by Māori and can be used for introducing themselves in the future.

A huge success for this TE school in the practice of the protection principle was their celebration of Māori Language Week. During this week the view of Te Ao Māori values and significance was heightened and te reo Māori was used more habitually around school. Although this was great to see it is important that this celebration of the language and values are not only celebrated for one week of the year but throughout everyday learning so as students know it has a presence in our everyday lives as people of New Zealand.

Challenges that presented for this TE school were the integration of Māori values as it is a Catholic school and had its own important values to uphold through school and classroom practice.  Through the religious education program there is connection to and support of Māori spirituality however this needs to be bought into classrooms and discussed more with children rather than acknowledging its presence in the program. Willingness of teachers to ‘give it a go’ may also be a barrier to the success of the protection principle at the TE school. Some teachers did not immerse te reo Māori or Māori cultures and values into their teaching as much as others. Support from management and professional development would be beneficial for protection of Māori knowledge, cultures, and values at this school.

PART 2: “Effective Provision” of Te Reo Māori in the Classroom/School

1. Snapshot of effectiveness

To assess my TE Schools effective provision of Te Reo Māori the ‘Tau Mai te Reo’ Rubric will be discussed (Ministry of Education, 2013). As a part of the Māori language strategy for the Ministry of Education, this rubric identifies how well schools and classrooms integrate and provide opportunities for the Te Reo Māori to strengthen.

This schools provision would be ‘consolidating effectiveness’ which became evident through discussion with staff and through observations. Observations revealed Māori language is valued and available for learners. There was frequent use of the language and it was habitual for teachers and students. Although te reo Māori was thoroughly integrated, it was noted that the main time for new reo learning was Friday morning making this learning feel tokenistic and not fully integrated into everyday curriculum learning. This aspect of provision was discussed with leading staff and they agreed more work could be done to further imbed language learning and create a pathway to inspire and learners at this school to use and value te reo Māori.

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Teaching at this school is ‘developing effectiveness’ of providing te reo Māori through education. The Education Review Office report for this school (ERO, 2016) mentions that the school has been developing their understanding of Tataiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Maori Learners (2011). Discussions with a leadership staff member revealed this understanding has been worked on through professional development of staff. However through discussions with other staff there was a desire for more Māori language learning to provide proficient and confident teaching.

The content provided by this school is ‘consolidating effectiveness’. One form that influenced this identification was the curriculum policy found on the schools website. There is no mention of Māori language, cultural or other Māori taonga linked in this school document. The policy is said to describe the teaching and learning program of the school. For Māori language learning to be embedded in this schools content it would be expected to be included in a curriculum policy document. Observation however did indicate opportunities for students to link existing culture to Māori values and te ao Māori views.

Iwi interactions are ‘minimally effective’ at this school. The ERO report (2016) indicates Te Whanau Tautoko o Reihana hui occurs every year for interested Māori community to attend. This is a chance for iwi communications to occur which is not utilised. Observations showed this catholic school works more closely with its parish to develop identity, values and teaching content.

This schools responsiveness is ‘highly effective’ to the language needs, priorities and aspirations of its community. The ERO report quotes “this school effectively responds to Māori children whose learning needs acceleration” (2016). Observations of staff and whānau interactions demonstrated a clear connection that created a learning environment that valued students’ identity and learning journey. This connection allowed for a lot of conversation and openness about the students learning and support for this learning.

2. Action Plan

This school has a wide range in its effectiveness in provision of te reo Māori in relation to the Tau Mai Te Reo rubric. Strategies need to be spread wide to incorporate the many factors requiring an increase of effective teaching in this area. Firstly, provision of te reo Māori can strengthened by everyday use and learning of new reo. A word of the day or could be taught to students to encourage their learning and begin immersion of the language. Each day students can be learning new Māori vocabulary just as they would be learning English vocabulary.

Working with iwi is a critical provision of te reo Māori education which is not being utilised by this school. Tau Mai Te Reo (2013) provides an action plan to encourage iwi support and suggests integration of iwi framework and inclusion of iwi into program designs. Although this is not possible for a student teacher on placement, possible initial steps could be inviting a kaiako into school for promotion of open communication with students and possibly staff. This would provide students with an opportunity for high quality language learning experiences and begin staff and school connections with the community iwi.

An effective strategy I could put into action is the sharing of Māori knowledge between staff and students. Ministry of Education (2007) provides the guiding principle of ako, a two way teaching and learning process. To increase teachers knowledge as well as confidence teachers must seek the knowledge and perspective from expert Māori students in their class or around the school to assist them with their learning. This strategy would also increase opportunity for partnerships to strengthen with Māori students, their whānau and staff.

3. Reflection

During TE placement I was able to start the introduction of a word of the day in te reo Māori. From the first day students were eager to learn new reo. I began with words of praise such as tino pai and miharo and used them throughout the day. As I used the words students were able to pick up the context and felt rewarded for understanding. However a barrier to the continuation of this strategy was the shortage of support from the main classroom teacher. They agreed it was a good idea but lacked the confidence or time allocation to continue this when I was not teaching. This barrier relates back to the need to teaching professional development in this te reo Māori and also embedding this te reo in the content structure for the school. During TE placement I was not able to implement iwi interaction. Barriers of this stem from the catholic character of this school, with a strong connection to the parish and catholic community it is more important to them that values of the church are integrated and students have a connection with the people of the parish.


  • ERO. (2016). ERO External Evaluation XXX School. Wellington: Education Review Office.
  • Ministry of Education. (2007). Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2013–2017. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  • Ministry of Education. (2011). Tataiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. Ministry of Education. Wellington.
  • Ministry of Education. (2012). The New Zealand Curriculum Update Issue 16. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  • Ministry of Education. (2013). Tau mai te reo: The Māori language strategy in education, 2013–2017. Wellington: Ministry of Education.


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