A series of free workshops aimed at teaching adults Te Reo Māori in a full immersion environment kicked off this month run by local group Te Puna o Te Ao Marama Trust.
The two-day course has been funded by Te Puni Kōkiri and is open to learners of all levels from beginners to advanced and implements Te Ataarangi methodology.
The course attracted around 60 students and was lead by teachers Pereri Māhanga and Vicky-Jean Stephens.
Te Ataarangi is a user friendly method of learning developed by Dr Kāterina Te Heikōkō (Ngāti Porou) and Ngoingoi Pewhairangi (Ngāti Porou) in the late 1970’s to revitalise the Māori language. The system is based on Caleb Gotenco’s “silent method” which uses Cuisenaire rods and was originally used as a learning aid for students to explore mathematics and other languages in the 1950s.
The methodology has since gone on to educate thousands of adults to speak Māori using Cuisenaire rods (rākau) and spoken language.
The coloured rods help students build sentence structures in a visual context followed by a verbal description in Te Reo. Students are encouraged to speak in their own time without assistance from others in a supportive environment.
Students are separated into two classes based on their own understanding of their level of language understanding. While Pereri Māhanga’s class is for the more advanced student in the full immersion environment, Ms Stephen’s class is tailored for those at a beginner level.
“One of the most students we get in Te Ataarangi are the ones who have done multiple courses throughout their life yet still say ‘I just couldn’t retain it’.
“This is just not true. Te Reo requires you to speak every day, in every opportunity you can, with every word you know… kōrero to your tamariki, your moko, your partner, even your dog if you have to! The point is you need to make it a part of your everyday life.”
Te Ataarangi student Brynn Pitman-Peek said at her first wānanga she was in the beginner’s class as a refresher on the first day then moved onto advanced by the second.
“When I got into the classroom I saw a range of people at different levels of Te Reo which made me feel so much more at ease.
What I really took value from the wānanga is it is open, engaging, and keeps you interested in wanting to learn more. It is definitely challenging,” she said.
Te Ataarangi will be running wānanga throughout the year as well as regular Te Reo coffee groups. .