Govt plans elite mātauranga Māori school for youth

An elite Māori language school to be piloted in 2020 will invest in youth excelling in te ao Māori.

Te Kawa Matakura will develop a qualification for students to formally recognise distinction in te reo and tikanga.

Associate Minister of Māori Education Kelvin Davis says the school will focus on tikanga, reo and Māori leadership skills. It is estimated 20 students will be selected for the $2.8mil pilot through an application process or nomination by iwi and kura.

"This will support a new level of education within Maōri culture that will help create a new elite who will fill the roles on our paepae."

But questions are being raised about whether it is similar to existing initiatives such as Māori immersion schools and the Māori language excellency programme, Te Panekiretanga.

“It is only right that government supports and funds Māori education" says Davis. 

“Kura Kaupapa students are NCEA focused.  This is different."

The minister is working alongside Māori language experts to help shape the curriculum.  Expert Paraone Gloyne says they’re exploring a wide range of areas to be incorporated, including vulnerable practices such as celestial waka navigation.

The location has yet to be decided.

“My hope for the minister’s school is that Māori will see the benefits of it but the initiative must also be executed correctly,” says Gloyne.

The minister is conducting hui with experts later this year.