The Curriculum

The Curriculum Guidelines for teaching Te Reo Māori in English medium schools are called Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori and are available online. The Curriculum Guidelines set out 8 Levels. It is expected that primary schools will use Levels 1 and 2: Beginning to use te reo Māori (See FAQs: “Can all schools use the curriculum? How do I use the curriculum?”).

There are a total of twelve Achievements Objectives across Level 1 and 2. These are Achievements Objectives 1.1 to 1.7 and 2.1 to 2.5. To complete all twelve Achievements Objectives by Year 6 would require working through about two Achievement Objectives per year.

Wai Ako breaks each Achievement Objective down further into 1-3 songs, each covering just one phrase or type of phrase. 4 new songs per year is a good pace. There is plenty of time to spend a few weeks on each song, learning and repeating the new language and then incorporating what is learned into the daily class routine.

General note on teachers and students

The Curriculum highlights that teachers and students will all be at different points on the journey of learning te reo Māori.  The Curriculum says of teachers:

"Many teachers will themselves be learners of te reo Māori. By sharing this with their students, they model the New Zealand Curriculum vision of lifelong learning and emphasise the value that is placed on te reo Maori. They also reinforce to their students the concept of ako – the idea that they are part of a community of learners in which each person has something to contribute. (See The concept of ako.)" 

The Curriculum says of students: "Students who are learning te reo Māori may have:

  • a strong background in te reo Māori, where the language is the normal means of communication with whānau and other members of the Māori community
  • whānau members or caregivers who use te reo Māori to communicate
  • some prior experience with te reo Māori, although they do not come from homes where te reo Māori is spoken
  • little experience of te reo Māori
  • moved from a Māori-medium setting (for example, kura kaupapa Māori or wharekura) into an English-medium setting. (Such students are likely to be working at a higher level of proficiency in using te reo Māori than their peers).

Within each of these groups of students, there is diversity. At all levels, students of te reo Māori are likely to show the full range of individual differences found in any group of learners. Some will have an aptitude for language, and some will have special educational needs. Some will be highly motivated to learn te reo Māori, while some may be more reserved." 

Importantly, the Curriculum stresses that teachers should not assume that Māori students will be experts or want to be singled out, "Teachers also need to be aware that Māori students have differing experiences and expertise in te reo Māori and tikanga. Effective teachers make no assumptions and gather information about each student’s personal background, prior knowledge, and willingness to take a leading role."

Note on regional dialects

The Curriculum notes that there are regional dialects of te reo Māori, which are mostly differences in pronunciation and vocabulary.  It says that the variations are not usually significant enough to interfere with communication, so that teachers can teach the dialect that they know (or are in the resources that are available for them to use).  However the Curriculum also encourages valuing, learning about and highlighting the local dialect, saying, "there are good reasons for teachers to learn about the dialect that is most used in the local community. By highlighting some of the language variations in class, teachers can increase their students’ language awareness. They can also support those students who are learning a dialect at school that differs from the one they use in their home. As they learn about local variations, teachers increase their own knowledge and expertise and so can engage in more meaningful ways with their Māori students’, whānau and communities."