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Source: Massey University

Te Aorere, Te Ataakura and Apirana Pewhairangi at Massey University.

What started as an idea to help keep whānau connected and tamariki engaged and learning has really taken off since New Zealand went into COVID-19 lockdown. Thousands of people are now signing up and tuning in on Facebook to get a taste of te reo Māori learning, community style. 

From their home bubble, siblings Apirana, Te Ataakura and Te Aorere Pewhairangi came up with the idea of having talented teachers and experts connect to create a schedule of online live and video lessons tamariki could tune into. Kura Mō Ngā Mokopuna was launched on March 29 and, within 24 hours, it had attracted more than 3000 followers. The first videos have now reached more than 20,000 people. 

Te Ataakura, who is a Te Reo Māori lecturer at Massey University’s Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, School of Māori Knowledge, and a former Māori Television presenter, was stunned by the response. 

“I had no idea this would blow up the way it has, but it’s fantastic to see people really want to ensure their children can still engage with te reo Māori while in this period of lockdown.”

Māori experts jump in to lend a hand

Offers to help with the project have been flooding in and Apirana, who is a Māori cultural advisor at Massey University, says they have been able to build a varied schedule of topics and presenters. 

“We started out aiming at kohanga reo or pre-school level, but then we received requests from all levels of te reo Māori learners. So now we have different sessions for the different levels and the videos range from waiata, tikanga, language, Māori astronomy, sport, games and sustainable living.”

So far presenters include te reo Māori language champions, Scotty and Stacey Morrison, former All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder, Māori astronomy expert Professor Rangi Matamua, along with a host of te reo Māori experts and teachers within their fields. Kura Mō Ngā Mokopuna already has four weeks of sessions programmed at 11am and 2pm, Monday to Friday 

The future looks strong for Te Ao Māori

Massey University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori Professor Meihana Durie, who is also a presenter, believes the initiative reflects the impact of te reo Māori revitalisation efforts in recent decades.

“In such challenging times, the continuity of education in te reo for our young people is critical.  Apirana, Te Ātaakura and Te Aorere and many of those leading this initiative understand that need and represent a new wave of te reo Māori educators who not only have capacity in te reo, but also significant expertise across broadcasting and teaching. 

“The ability to have brought together so many experts from such diverse areas of Te Ao Māori is a sign that the future of Māori education is in good hands.” 

Check out the Kura Mō Ngā Mokopuna Facebook page.