Make NZ bilingual, author pleads

01:57, Nov 25 2013
te reo
Te Reo sing-a-long with Sharon Holt at puke Ariki. She has won an award for her maori books. Children: Kahli Wilton, 4, Belle and Eva, Hay-Vega, 3.

Maori should be made compulsory, says an award-winning author of popular children's singalong books.

Hamilton journalist, teacher and author Sharon Holt was in Taranaki last week performing songs from her growing series of educational te reo books and CDs to her small fans.

And if the response from the pre-schoolers at Puke Ariki on Friday is anything to go by, the action songs are a big hit among children, teachers and parents.

Ms Holt said she wrote the books to make it easy for everyone to use te reo.

Her efforts have been rewarded after she received the print award from the Maori Language Commission a week ago.

The awards acknowledge efforts to keep the Maori language alive and she says she is passionate about doing just that.


"The reason it is such an honour is that I am non-Maori."

While she did not profess to be fluent in Maori, once she started learning she fell in love with the language. She was keen to see Maori made compulsory in schools.

Every New Zealander had the right to grow up bilingual and there was plenty of research to show how valuable it was to have a second language, she said.

Her books are being picked up in mainstream education where, she says, they are helping the teachers learn and pronounce basic Maori and use simple sentences.

The books include a singalong CD and were translated into English "so they can learn with the children".

While all schools were expected to offer a Maori language component they were not getting the funds to do it.

"The Ministry of Education should resource the teachers properly so they can do the job they are expected to do."

Ms Holt has three more books planned for next year.

At Puke Ariki last week, ABC early childhood teacher Debbie Vertongen said the books and CDs were in everyday use at her New Plymouth preschool. She praised their use of everyday Maori words, catchy tunes and good illustrations.

Taranaki Daily News