An after-school programme that's been described as Maori Scouts has attracted almost 40 children.
Focusing on the environment, Tukaikaha's hands-on sessions are conducted entirely in te reo Maori.
Children can only attend with their parents, so more than a dozen adults also gather each Thursday afternoon for Tukaikaha, which is run by Te Reo o Taranaki.
Almost all the participants attend New Plymouth's Maori immersion kura, Te Pi'ipi'inga Kakano Mai i Rangiatea.
The programme's co-ordinator Moana Kake said Tukaikaha gave tamariki and their parents a rare opportunity to learn together.
“It can be pretty scary as a parent if you think you have a pretty minimal level of te reo, and your kids are immersed in it every day at kura. But just by being there the parents benefit from an almost automatic learning.”
Weekly after-school sessions lead up to an overnight marae stay, or noho, each school term.
“I like the experience of the noho,” Sapphire Barrett, 8, said.
“We're out in the world experiencing things. It's easier to learn things.”
For Ngatupara Ritai, 11, the appeal is more straightforward.
“I like the games. It's more fun than school.”
Tukaikaha means stand strong, and aims to strengthen the reo spoken at home and between the whanau of the programme.
Raelene Southorn likes the family orientation for her two girls.
“It's experiencing things together. It's not just our family going to do something, it's all of our families.”
“It definitely helps my reo. I need more places to speak the reo.”
Te Reo o Taranaki runs Tukaikaha not only to spread Taranaki's version of the language, but also the local knowledge it contains.
Hone Albert isn't from Taranaki and brings his two boys to learn more about local history.
“We learn about wahi tapu (sacred places) and it highlights things connected to the whakapapa here.”
“I know it's working because the children are talking about it and loving it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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