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Trailblazing role brings Te Reo to digital classrooms

In a first for New Zealand education, a cluster of Northland schools now has its own Rumaki and Reo Rua facilitator.

Whangarei Intermediate School teacher Neke Adams has taken on the role to support the Te Puawai cluster’s kaiako Māori to become digitally immersed in their classrooms.

The position was jointly created by the Te Puawai schools and Taitokerau Education Trust as part of the trust’s successful Digital Immersion Programme, and is funded by Refining New Zealand.

Taitokerau Education Trust aims to raise achievement levels by providing teachers with professional development, and making personal-use devices accessible to students from lower-income households.

Taitokerau Education Trust Executive Officer Liz Cassidy-Nelson says: “We want to ensure our programme is responsive to every student’s needs.

“Schools within our cluster have a high percentage of Māori students, so delivering the programme in Te Reo is essential if all students are to benefit.”

Currently there are no local Māori language resources available to Rumaki and Reo Rua classes in Te Taitokerau.

Neke says: “We want to start something. The ultimate goal is to get every teacher within our cluster collaborating in the Māori digital space.”

Neke has been surrounded by Te Reo all her life. However, becoming a teacher of the language has been a personal learning journey, she says.

“Home spoken Te Reo is different to educational Te Reo. When it came to my teaching, I had to learn more words to complement the language that I already had.”

Neke’s ultimate wish is for every New Zealand student and teacher to know the basics of Te Reo so they can converse in simple sentences.

There are currently 925 students participating in the trust’s Digital Immersion Programme.

Taitokerau Education Trust receives no Ministry of Education funding for roles such as Neke’s.

“We are fortunate to be supported by a number of generous corporate sponsors, including Refining New Zealand, our founding partners Northpower and Northpower Fibre, and Amokura Iwi Chief Executives Consortium,” says Liz.

Amokura Iwi Consortium CEO and Taitokerau Education Trust deputy chair Rangimarie Price says the Rumaki and Reo Rua facilitator role aligns with the objectives of the Amokura Iwi-led economic growth strategy, He Tangata, He Whenua, He Oranga.

“We want to provide a future-focused education that is proven to meet the learning needs of Māori students,” says Rangimarie.

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