Marlborough's first bilingual school not just for Māori

Kiley Nepia at Omaka Marae, which will launch a Māori immersion school next year.

Kiley Nepia at Omaka Marae, which will launch a Māori immersion school next year.

Demand has been higher than expected for Marlborough's first te reo Māori and English bilingual school.

Omaka Marae is on track to open Te Pā Wānanga for term 1 next year with 20 students.

Marae manager Kiley Nepia said the roll had not been finalised though, so families could still register their interest.

Nepia said there was interest from Pākehā and overseas families living in Marlborough.

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"This isn't just exclusively for Māori."

The bilingual school was an easy concept for many foreign families to understand – themselves coming from bilingual backgrounds, Nepia said.

The school would not just be bilingual, it would revolve around "kaupapa Māori" – a way of life, he said.

"If this Māori way resonates with other people, then they would be considered as well."

Nepia said revitalising te reo was not something Māori had to do alone.

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"I'm not really sure if non-Māori realise the role they play."

The school was advertising for a teacher, and communicating with families to ensure they were on board with the school's principles.

"Over the next couple of months we will meet with those that have indicated that their children are interested in enrolling," Nepia said.

"We're not just enrolling the child, we're enrolling the whole family.

"Being Māori will be at the centre and the heart of everything they do."

He said some details were yet to be hammered out, such as which subjects would be taught in English.

"It may not necessarily be taught in te reo Māori, but it will be taught in a kaupapa Māori context."

Nepia said high interest in the school showed there was a need for it in the community.

It would play an important part in normalising te reo in the playground, the home and the community.

The Ministry of Education announced in June it would provide $1 million in funding to create the school at Omaka Marae, just outside Blenheim, as a satellite of Renwick School.

 - Stuff


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