South Canterbury falls behind national te reo Maori NCEA rate
What Maori is being taught at primary schools may be behind the rate of South Canterbury students studying te reo Māori being significantly below the national rate, it has been claimed.
One per cent of all eligible South Canterbury high school students studied te reo at NCEA level in the last three years, while the national rate was six per cent during the same period.
Whaea Ani Haua, who teaches te reo at Mountainview High School, said many students arrived in her class with only a basic understanding of the language and they should have been taught more te reo at primary school.
South Canterbury Principals' Association president Jane Culhane said primary schools tried to teach as much te reo as they could, but many had limited teacher support from fluent speakers.
Haua said some students did not know proper pronunciation of Māori words and struggled with vocabulary when they started high school.
It would be a "huge step" to study the language at a NCEA level.
"They're not prepared as well as they should be ... it makes it harder to get to a higher level."
Figures released by the New Zealand Qualification Authority revealed no South Canterbury students studied te reo at NCEA level 3 since fewer than five students did in 2014.
Level 2 entries remained consistent with fewer than five students taking the course in the past three years.
About 18 students studied level 1 te reo last year, which was two more students than in 2014.
Nationally, more students studied NCEA level 1, rising from 3622 to 3713 students, and level 3, increasing to 1705 from 1691, between 2014 and 2016.
Level 2 national entries fell from 2334 to 2266 during the same period.
South Canterbury's low te reo rates have not deterred Mountainview High School year 12 student Alisha McCoy, 16.
She is one of two students studying te reo at NCEA Level 2 at the school.
"Māori is in my blood," McCoy said.
"Māori is important, but easily forgotten. There's not many that take it [Te Reo]."
She has studied te reo since year 9 and hoped to take her language through the rest of her schooling.
Kaitoko Mātauraka (Ngāi Tahu education advisor) Irai Weepu said learning te reo Māori provided access to Te Ao Māori (The Māori world) and their world view.
"It is important for students to learn te reo Māori and have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of Te Ao Māori," Weepu said.
"This can help students to develop their own identity and a deeper sense of place in Polynesia and the wider world.
"When students reach NCEA level, they can gain credits which can help qualify them for further tertiary study."
Year 10 student Tiana Warren, 14, planned to study te reo as part of her NCEA classes as it was "part of my Māori identity".
"It's something I enjoy doing," Warren said.
"If I have kids, I want them to take te reo."
Culhane said the whole education sector needed greater access to support development of te reo, and many schools undertook initiatives to improve language learning.
Several schools were part of the Aoraki Māori Project, and other programmes, which supported teachers with fluent speakers, she said.
"Greater access to resources of Māori would be hugely beneficial in an area like South Canterbury."
Ministry of Education early learning and student achievement acting head Karl Le Quesne said the number of students choosing to learn te reo was growing.
"In 2015, there were 23,508 more students learning te reo as a separate subject than in 2010 or being taught the curriculum in the Māori language some or all of the time," Le Quesne said.
"Te reo Māori is the most commonly taught language at schools."