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Te reo Māori kaiako in Southland are inundated with interest for classes.

 

Front row left to right, Darren Pearson, Arana, Brent Gilmour,

Back row left to right, Sonny Tonihi, Henry (Rusty) Johnson, Wini Solomon

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa business coordinator Arana Collett says the number of tauira enrolled in te reo Māori classes at the Southern Institute of Technology are at their highest levels in more than 10 years.

 

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and the Southern Institute of Technology have shared a strategic partnership for the past 13 years through which cultural, computing and te reo Māori programmes are offered.

Arana says he has seen a big increase in interest over the last four or five years in te reo Māori programmes.

 

“It has doubled actually,” said Arana.

 

“Prior to my coming down here were were doing up to 250 EFTS but the year before last we had 550 EFTS.”

 

Interestingly, Arana noted that more non-Māori were taking classes compared with Māori.

 

“There is a big influx of non-Māori here. I would say it’s 50/50 it might even be 60 per cent non Māori but you must remember we are only talking about a small population down here.”

 

When asked why the interest in te reo Māori was so high, Arana believed it was because Te Wānanga o Aotearoa had established itself as a integral part of the various communities in the deep south.

 

The demand is so great that Arana recently received a call from Stewart Island where 40 people were ready to undertake a te ara reo Māori programme

 

“We have long-serving staff members who have been here for 13 or 14 years. We are getting out in to the communities and the people are starting to trust us and the word of mouth down here has been pretty good for us.”

 

“But a lot of teachers are wanting to learn as well so they can use a bit of reo in the schools. Teacher’s training college has supported us and they have come on board...I can’t put my finger on it to be honest.”

 

More than seven te reo Māori classes are running at SIT this year with additional classes being taught off campus at Wanaka, Cromwell and Queenstown.

Kaimahi, who travel long distances to provide tuition are also considering setting up a language class in Te Anau but are waiting on a few more enrolments to make the tutor’s two-hour drive feasible.

“We cover all of Southland ... and sometimes we sneak in to Otago and sneak in a class under their nose,” said Arana.

 

“The population of all of Southland is 90,000 and of that there are 54,000 people in Invercargill.”

 

“So when you hear about 600 students it may not seem like much but for us it is a heck of a lot.”

 

 

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