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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Visiting a Year 10 Te Reo Class at Tāmaki College

Last Thursday I took up an invitation from Whaea Melba Pakinga to join her and her Year 10 Te Reo Māori class to observe and see some strategies for language teaching in a Māori context.

I was happy to see many familiar faces as I entered the class, old students from Tāmaki Primary as well as some familiar faces from Point England School - from when I was facilitating in their classes.  
The lesson was focussed around the theme of 'Ko Wai Au?' (Who am I?) and the creation of the students' mihi and pepeha.  This was the first session for this free elective class.  

It is hard teaching something that is such a taonga in such a small amount of time, but Whaea wove reo, with tikanga, song and stories into the 60 minutes with ease.  We spoke afterwards and agreed that not everything she said would be appreciated in the now, but that hopefully as these rangatahi grew older and navigate through issues of their identity as Māori in New Zealand, they would be able to look back or make connections to the lessons and stories of her lessons.

I noticed Wheae Melba used words like prefix, adverb, story writing structures, pronouns and other terms you might only expect from English class.  We discussed how learning of another language can consolidate ideas and grammar structure in your first language - which for these students was English.  We discussed how we could encourage students to transfer skills in Te Reo into their English classes.  Both subjects are University approved NCEA subjects.  This thought aligns with my learning in TESSOL and what I am only just scratching the surface of in my own professional inquiry this year in Room 10.

What was also obvious was how Whaea Melba aimed to create a place of mana for these students.  Having a entire module based on identity and whakapapa shows that.  "Kaua e whakamā - don't be shy!"  She calls out as students get up to mihi to each other.  Just two lines:  "Tēnā koutou e te whānau.  Ko _____ tōku ingoa."  But she's set the expectations for the rest of the year.  You stand and you speak.  "Stand first, then speak.  Don't have your back towards others.  Respect all of those around you who have come to listen."  

Whakataukī was the focus of part of the lesson and having dedicated time to whakataukī each week in my own class, I was happy to think that if one day, my students were in this class, it would be a class they could excel in and achieve success in.

These Year 10 students will present their speeches to their whānau at the end of the module.  I have asked if my class can come along as an audience for the dress rehearsal.  I've also invited myself back for future classes.  It's just nice to be around the reo!

Ngā mihi ki a koe, e te  puna o te kī, te whitiki o te kī, ko koe Whaea Melba, i tō manaakitanga me tō manawanui ki ahau i tērā wā.  Mauri ora!

The structure of the lesson focussed around this Google Doc.  Students will complete their own and that of a friend through listening and recording.


  1. What a great example of collaborative inquiry Kyla. Thanks for sharing this. You have made so many valuable points and observations here and I agree that it would be marvellous if your tamariki end up in this class in two or three years time.
    I tautoko one of your points from my own experience: it wasn't until I started learning a second language that I began to truly understand thebgrammar and structure of the English language!

  2. Hi Kyla. Great way to empower learners. I've been wondering how to bring more te reo to the classroom but have been wondering how and where to start.