CK9qg2AUAAAyuhBTe Reo Māori is a taonga – a national treasure – and yet it’s declining on a national level. The latest 2013 Census reveals only 4% of the national population can speak Te Reo well enough to hold a conversation. This shows the urgent need for Te Reo to be promoted and supported.

At present, 70% of Māori school students in Auckland are getting very little or no Te Reo, meaning the majority of Māori students are missing out on the social, economic and cultural benefits to be gained by learning Te Reo Māori.

Working alongside community, council and iwi groups, COMET Auckland plays an active role in discussing and advocating for the best strategies to promote Te Reo Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau, with an increased emphasis on quality, early childhood learning to support Māori learners and whānau.

Te Reo revitalisation has become an important topic of conversation at the Tāmaki Makaurau Education Forum, which COMET’s Māori Education Manager Hauāuru Rawiri leads and facilitates. The TMEF platform is used to discuss effective strategies to identify what is working in our communities and what can be developed further.

A TMEF hui held in November included over 20 iwi representatives, the Education Review Office, Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Education, Serco, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council, and it was agreed that Te Reo revitalisation is a community issue and is addressed more effectively with a single focus from across the sector.

The TMEF hui in May discussed government and community engagement strategies, language resilience and how policy can support Māori education.

The hui in May also identified four focus areas which were:

• Empowering communities – supporting community initiatives around Māori education.

• Speaking Te Reo – encouraging Māori to be comfortable in participating and speaking Te Reo in immersion environments.

• Best Learning – identify broad strategies that foster effective iwi cohesion.

• Te Ataarangi – maintaining Te Reo proficiency outside of immersion environments.

One further action towards supporting Te Reo Māori revitalisation this year has been support for a collaborative project led by Auckland Transport, with Kiwa Digital and Pukekohe North School, to develop a fantastic new resource that became available in Māori Language Week 2015.

He Rā Ngahau Mā Te Whānau I Runga Tereina, or Whānau Fun on the Train is a digital book available in both Te Reo Māori and English, and is a valuable resource for local Māori cultural history and Te Reo language.

The book is about a whānau from Pukekohe who go by train on a day trip to Eden Park to watch the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines. Along the way the whānau teaches us Māori history of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) by sharing stories about sites of significance such as maunga (mountains), events and traditional names for train stops. The app can be downloaded free and is a wonderful resource for schools and kura, and also for families wishing to strengthen and celebrate Te Reo Māori with their children.

To read the full report, click here.


Languages Strategy showcased on a national stage

After two and a half years of collaborative work, it was exciting to finally present the final draft of the Tamaki Makaurau Auckland Languages Strategy at the Office of Ethnic Community’s Lining Up Languages: Navigating Policy and Programmes forum last month.

Joris de Bres (of Multicultural New Zealand) and I were invited as representatives of the Auckland Languages Strategy Working Group to discuss our strategy, and how it might feed into policy at a national level.

Our presentation fit perfectly with the forum’s focus around government policies and initiatives to promote the use and learning of languages in New Zealand. There were well over 100 people there, from a wide range of language backgrounds and organisations, and the presentations covered a good cross-section of services and policy positions around languages.
Joris and I used some of our presentation time to get people to write their responses to two questions:

1. What is the most important action New Zealand should take to support languages?
2. What is one low-cost or no-cost action that would support languages in New Zealand?

In all, 85 people contributed their ideas. There were some clear trends in the responses, as you can see from the most frequently-mentioned actions below:

Most important actions

  • Make language learning in schools compulsory 19
  • Establish a national languages policy 17
  • Publicly recognise the value of languages 15
  • Teach languages in school from year 1 12

Low- or no-cost actions:

  • Support community language learning 13
  • Encourage parents to use their mother tongue at home 12
  • Use community members to teach language and culture in schools 12
  • Value languages – champions, public campaigns 10

If you’d like more details on the ideas participants put forward, you can read the full summary here: NZ Languages_Feedback_ALL.

Based on the above feedback from forum participants, on listening to the presentations and discussions across the two days, and on other feedback received since our last draft, we have developed an updated version of the strategy, which you can check out here: Nga Reo o Tamaki Makaurau Draft Action Plan – revised draft updated March 2015 3.

While we are developing this strategy at a regional level, it was exciting to hear comments that our strategy could be seen as a possible starting point for a national languages policy. If that happens, it could be a game-changer in supporting a multilingual Aotearoa.

The next step for us is to gain formal endorsements from language organisations – which will help us gain credibility for the strategy at Council and government levels. All we need is an email from the organisation, stating that they endorse the Auckland Languages Strategy. If you have connections with any relevant organisations, please can you either approach them for endorsement yourself, or email me at so that one of the writing committee can arrange a meeting with the appropriate person, to request endorsement.

Meanwhile, here are a few links to recent news stories relating to the strategy:
Auckland Council gives regional languages strategy thumbs up
• Celebrating Auckland’s diversity through language
Radio Waatea: Auckland Languages Strategy accepted by Auckland Council


languageWaitangi Day last month was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity and multiculturalism of Auckland City. With a boastful and vibrant 160 languages in Auckland, setting time aside to learn a new language or revitalise an existing one can be enormously fulfilling.

The Chinese New Year (Chun Jie), on February 19 was another fantastic opportunity for Auckland to delve into its rich language background.

To support languages in Auckland, we have been working with a diverse group of experts to develop a draft Auckland Languages Strategy.  If you haven’t already sent us your comments on the draft strategy, you can request a copy from Susan Warren 

Meanwhile, everyone is in a position to broaden their language experience; whether it’s learning as a family, by yourself, or exchanging languages with your neighbour over the fence. COMET Auckland wants to encourage people to be brave and take a positive, constructive step into another language. Kia kaha!

For the full March 2015 newsletter, please click here.