Celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in child care

Published on Wednesday, 08 September 2021
Last updated on Tuesday, 07 September 2021

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Every day, there are opportunities for early childhood education (ECE) services to champion te reo Māori and incorporate the language into little ones’ learning.

There are songs to sing, books to read and visitors to welcome, and during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), ECE services around the country are joining Kōhanga Reo, whānau and the whole Kiwi community to celebrate and practice te reo Māori.

Māori Language Week runs next week from 13 to 19 September, and today, we’re sharing ways for tamariki and educators to get involved with the Week, courtesy of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission).

How can ECE services join in with Māori Language Week?

The Commission says that ‘For tamariki as young as one to five years, a great way to teach the history of te reo Māori, and the language itself, is by engaging in activities and promoting the Week in a way which is enjoyable for their learning.’

Here are four key ways to do this:

1. Educators and tamariki can practice te reo Māori throughout the ECE day

Te reo Māori books help youngsters to absorb the written and spoken word during storytime, and item labels are a great way to show tamariki the Māori word for everyday objects.

Food and drinks can be labelled in the fridge or on the lunch table, and classroom equipment can also be given a Māori name.

In the outdoor area, children are welcome to play the day away with te reo Māori play equipment words (e.g. ‘pōro’ means ‘ball’ and ‘rua kirikiri’ means ‘sandpit’), then build up to whole sentences, with educators asking, “He aha tēnei?” (“What is this?”) and tamariki answering, “He tiemi tēnā” (“That is a seesaw”).

A little bit of screen time can also teach a lot, and Pipi Mā and Tākaro Tribe are two animated web series that contain te reo Māori letters, numbers, words, pronunciation and fun.

Drop-offs and pick-ups are a great time to practice te reo Māori greetings and farewells, and Twinkl also offers colourful printables to help tamariki talk about emotions and expressions, body parts (with flashcards), animals and transport (with card-matching games).

2. Tamariki can celebrate Māori culture with craft and music

Making, and using, a poi takes concentration, coordination and creativity, which is great for kids’ learning and development.

Bright Sparks provides the steps for crafting a poi here, and tamariki can practice their rhythm and movement with the finished product, by copying this song and dance.

Children can also roll up old magazines to make rakau sticks and learn the lyrics and actions for E Papä Waiari. This musical Māori stick game is fun for preschoolers and older kids.

Strips of old newspaper can be attached to a cardboard waistband to fashion a piupiu (Māori skirt), and this chirpy song is a great way to teach the pronunciation of all vowels and every way they are said in Māori.

3. Educators and tamariki can enjoy Māori recipes

Food is an integral part of every culture, and there are lots of delicious, kid-friendly Māori meals.

Māori Television provides some recipe inspiration, and Kūmara Rewena bread is a classic dish that can be taste-tested by tamariki.

4. Educators can invite local Kōhanga Reo teachers to visit their ECE service

Tamariki are always excited to have a special guest, and kaiako have a rich language and culture to share with them.

There’s the opportunity for Kōhanga Reo teachers to read te reo Māori stories, answer kids’ questions and join in the action and excitement of the Week.

The Māori Language Commission encourages ECE services to check in with local Kōhanga Reo to see how they’re celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, and the Commission’s Reo Māori website includes ways for all Kiwis to get involved with the Week and revive te Reo Māori throughout the year.

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