Why learn Te Reo?
Te reo Māori and tikanga Māori are intertwined, and so learning te reo Māori gives students access to te ao Māori (the Māori world) and to Māori world views. The insights and experiences that students gain as they learn the language will enrich and broaden their understandings of the uniqueness and complexity of te ao Māori.
As students compare tikanga Māori with other cultures within New Zealand and overseas, they develop an understanding of the central roles that language, culture, place and heritage play in shaping identity and in giving direction and meaning to life. They come to understand that culture shapes the ways people think and behave, and begin to appreciate the value of cultural diversity. They learn about the important role that indigenous languages and cultures play in New Zealand and throughout the world.
These understandings can lead students to think about their own cultural identity and their personal place in the world. This may be especially important for those students who identify as Māori and for whom te reo Māori is a second language. For these students, the enhanced sense of connection to a rich cultural heritage can be deeply empowering. Indeed, Durie (2003) argues that education should enable Māori to live as Māori and that this means preparing Māori children to interact within te ao Māori.