Wai Ako | Empowering teachers to learn Te Reo Māori with their students through music

Introduction to Wai Ako

Wai Ako is a new and innovative online programme for teachers in English medium primary schools to deliver the te reo Māori curriculum.  

It has been created for English medium primary school teachers with limited or basic knowledge of Māori language and pronunciation. 

Wai Ako means Learning Songs.  The programme uses catchy music videos to get children and teachers singing the basic phrases of the curriculum.  Teachers can learn pronunciation, phrase structure and vocabulary along with their students. 

Wai Ako mobilises ordinary classroom teachers to ensure that every child has the chance to learn the basics of te reo Māori. This frees up specialists to extend language learning and delve more deeply into aspects of tikanga.

Wai Ako has a strong focus on quickly transitioning language learning into opportunities to speak the learned reo every day in school.

Wai Ako was launched in September 2017 and already is being used by thousands of children in schools throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.


Leslee Allen, Principal, Kaurihohore School

We love using Wai Ako, we started this year with the junior school, but the seniors have seen what a difference it has made to our classes, so we will subscribe for the whole school in 2019.  The songs are so clear, simple and relate brilliantly to building knowledge and daily use of Te Reo.  The lessons are very easy to follow and link so well to the curriculum objectives.  Wai Ako has worked wonders for teacher confidence across the school and we totally recommend it to others! 

Gary O'Brien, Principal, Torbay School

We are working hard to develop our programmes and culture around teaching te Reo and Wai Ako breaks down some of the barriers our teachers face, it is a superb innovation in the area of teaching te Reo. 

Dennie Davidson, Specialist Teacher: Music/Maori, Sherwood School

I asked the teachers at Sherwood School for some words to describe how they are finding Wai Ako to use. Some of their responses are below:

“I think Waiako.com is brilliant. This programme has really helped my pronunciation and I feel much more confident helping the students read Māori words e.g. when we come across them in school journals. It is helpful to be able to revisit previous lessons if I feel I need extra support. Dennie also does a fantastic job with the students every Friday- they love the songs and she always makes it fun.”

“I really like the repetitive phrases as well as the teacher notes with the translations. Another thing I like is that there is not a fixed time limit as such. We move on as fast as we can, but if we need to repeat a lesson, we can do it. I have learnt so much this year.”

“The children are far more engaged learning Te Reo in this way than the teacher trying to teach the language. They get the correct pronunciation and enjoy the format. Definitely a far easier way to teach Te Reo.”

“I think Waiako has been fantastic to use in our classrooms. Always great to get more singing happening in class and it has provided a fun and easy way for the kids and teachers to extend their Te Reo.”

“Waiako has been brilliant, super easy to use and engaging with the students. I've found that my use and knowledge of te reo has improved greatly with this programme, as well as the children's.”

Wai Ako in the media!

Wai Ako has been profiled in the media!

In August 2018 Māori TelevisionSchool News and Radio Waatea all did stories about the fantastic work of Torbay School using Wai Ako to empower student led learning.

Check out the two page spread in the November 2017 Education Gazette.

We were interviewed on Radio NZ in July 2018.

Wai Ako was featured on Te Kaea on Māori Television in September 2017.

The September 2017 article on Education Central about Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori begins with a profile of Wai Ako.

Wai Ako was featured in the North Shore Times in September 2017.

See the New Zealand Law Society website which featured Wai Ako in July 2018.