Native Affairs - Lost In Translation

By Iulia Leilua

According to the Ministry of Education, Māori students do much better when their education reflects and values their identity, language and culture.  Yet in the King Country town of Taumarunui Te Reo Māori is only offered as a six-week optional subject at the High School.

Local kaumātua and whānau are calling for Māori language to be offered again as a core subject at Taumarunui High School.  But as Iulia Leilua reports, the school's priority is on numeracy and literacy.

The principal of Taumarunui High School John Rautenbach declined to be interviewed on camera by Native Affairs.  We sent written questions and asked, "Why not offer te reo Māori as a core subject in Years 9 and 10?

Mr Rautenbach replied: 

"Our core curriculum at Years 9 and 10 focuses on literacy and numeracy, which are the national priorities." 
"Students were offered a really wide range of interesting study options by staff…. two of the six-week Te Reo Māori courses found favour with students, as did the year-long Japanese project."

He also said: "Over recent years we have noticed fewer students opting to study Te Reo Māori."

And in response to our question about why Māori language is being offered in the same stream as skiing, he said:

"For juniors, Fridays are the day they choose their passion subjects and get to do whole day activities.  Fridays are also when our elite ski squad train with Ruapehu Snow Sports Instructors, and the day set aside for the Junior Ski Trip.  All junior students get to go skiing regardless of which project they are doing."