Auckland schools have signalled teacher shortages as a major challenge for delivering mainstream education, but it’s also a problem for teaching te reo.
The government has plans to integrate te reo into all schools by 2025, with the Green Party suggesting it should be compulsory. Although Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson admits that sourcing staff confident in teaching the language is difficult.
As a result, local school principals are struggling to deliver the subject. Pakiri School principal Ingrid Stewart says she is lucky to have Ra Gossage, daughter of author Peter Gossage, working with her students.
“It’s been hard to find the right person for the job of teaching te reo at Pakiri,” Ms Stewart says. “We have been very lucky to have Ra, who is locally connected, as 87 per cent of our roll is Maori and I feel it’s important to familiarise them with their culture.”
She believes the challenge is one faced by schools across the country.
“We tried to get a teacher through an organisation in Auckland, but they were supplying untrained people who were set up to fail.”
Leigh School principal Julie Turner is feeling the shortage with no one currently able to take te reo lessons or kapa haka.
“It’s very frustrating, as it’s been a strength of our school in the past, but we haven’t been able to find anyone locally to work in this area,” Ms Turner says.
Matakana School teaches te reo to all students as part of daily classroom work and also pays for an organisation called te reo Tuatahi to deliver lessons at school for students from Year 1 to 3. Principal Darrel Goosen says he would like to offer this to more age groups in future.
“This will be dependent on the availability of language tutors, who are in short supply,” Mr Goosen says.
Wellsford School also integrates the language into its everyday lessons, but how much is determined by how confident the teacher is with te reo.
The Ministry of Education has acknowledged a lack of skills in this area and is hoping to solve this through the Te Ahu o te reo Maori programme within two years. The programme will include an online hub of resources for teachers to use and courses on the delivery of te reo for school staff.
Nine other schools responded to Mahurangi Matters when asked what te reo they delivered.
Otamatea High School: Te reo lessons for Year 7 to 9, optional for Year 10 to 13 and community classes on Tuesdays.
Rodney College: Six weeks of Tikanga Maori for Year 9, optional te reo for Year 9 to 13.
Maungaturoto Primary School: Weekly session with specialist teacher, in class use and kapa haka for all students.
Tapora School: Weekly lessons through video conferencing for two terms, kapa haka for all students.
Kaiwaka School: Three hours optional te reo and tikanga instruction a week with 96 per cent opting in this year.
Mangawhai Beach School: In-class learning, with specialist teacher for junior and middle syndicate, and kapa haka for all students.
Living Way Christian School: In-class use and te reo by correspondence for senior students.
Ahuroa School: Weekly lessons from local iwi and te reo, and tikanga in class programmes.
Horizon School: In-class use and weekly lessons for senior primary students.