At Te Kura o Wairau, the ideas surrounding Māori Language Week are not just a one-off, they are part of the school’s culture.
The Palmerston North school is celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori this week, but the school’s approach to Māori language and culture is not limited to one week.
Principal Teena​ Johnson said they celebrated all of New Zealand’s language weeks throughout the year and raised a flag that represented the language, this week the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, then immersed themselves in the culture for the week.
On Monday they had a karakia (prayer), mihi (speech) and waiata (song) in the school hall, then the children started their week learning the stick game tī rākau.
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“Every day we have a process in the school culture, which is all about going through our school pepeha linking it to [Palmerston North iwi] Rangitāne and celebrating our place here.”
The school did not have a bilingual or immersion class, but promoting the use of te reo regularly and supporting Māori and other cultures was “how our school is going to roll”.
“It is just more natural for us here even though we don’t have an immersion unit. What we have tried is try to instil our values, what do we really believe in.”
The school values were whanaungatanga (relationships), manaakitanga (hospitality, caring) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
Johnson said they tried to put those values in place in their teaching and learning, protecting each other’s mana and showing manners and respect.
The school had numerous flags hung in its hall representing all the cultures that had been at the school, including the Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Tokelau and Scotland.
Children could come in cultural attire representing the week’s language.
The school recently unveiled a new mural that displayed Ngā atua, the gods, Papatūānuku (earth mother), Tāne (god of the forest), Tangaroa (god of the sea) and Ranginui (sky father).
The mural was designed by teacher Julie Etuale and the tohu was designed by Israel Birch.
It also displayed the school’s whakatauki (proverb) ‘Mā mātou te Wairautanga e whakaoti’, and the foundations of “Wairuatanga”, which Johnson said was about being a good person.
The whakatauki was drawn from 19th century Rangitāne chief Te Peeti Te Awe Awe, who had laid foundations for friendship.
The flag raising was done in the school hall because the New Zealand flag at the front of the school was flying at half-mast to honour the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The school would have a flag-lowering ceremony on Friday.
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