Hero photograph
Photo by Matt White

Our students are Aotearoa Rockstars (ARP).

Matt White —

The ARP project focuses on encouraging Te Reo Māori to be used in our community and involves our students working with the following businesses: Fendalton Library, Jellie Park and New World Fendalton, to help staff and the community to learn and speak basic Te Reo Māori.

Year 11 student, Taylah Peek reflects on her ARP experience. 

This year I was selected to participate in the Aotearoa Rockstars project which meant that I was given the opportunity to teach Te Reo Māori to members of our wider community. Each Monday morning everyone involved in the programme met in the library and we practised our Māori words of the week, sung waiata and discussed how to go up to people in an approachable manner. We also reflected on how to improve our outing from the previous week. Tuesdays were when our groups would split off and travel to their different locations. I was part of the Fendalton Library group and we set up all of our flags, banners and posters in the foyer. We provided fresh fruit to anybody who wanted it and had some comfy seats to encourage people to come sit down and learn some Te Reo with us.

When approaching members of the public we briefly explained what we were doing within the community and if they agreed we would teach them some words by breaking up the different sounds and repeating words to help them learn the correct pronunciation.

As we approached people the array of different views towards the culture surprised me. We discovered that some members of the public had come in just to see us and what we were teaching whilst others weren’t interested at all or felt that they were “too old” to bother learning a new language. One of the biggest challenges we learned to work through was rejection and how to deal with people who do not appreciate or care for the language or culture. Our most effective response was to accept their request, politely smile and wish them a great rest of their day. Eventually some of these people warmed up to us over the weeks and became more open-minded.

I feel like this was an effective way to spread Te Reo in our community because the willing members of the public took home pamphlets to practise the words that they learned and the words we did teach were useful and could easily be integrated into someone's daily vocabulary e.g Mōrena (good morning) could be used to greet staff at a cafe while getting your morning coffee or Ka wani kē (awesome) could be used to praise your child.

Our execution of the program has been broadcasted on Te Karere (Māori news channel), on What Now and in a TVNZ article. Hopefully we can spread our Māori language from our Burnside community, even further to the whole of New Zealand. My hope from engaging in the programme is to normalise Te Reo and hear it more frequently in our daily lives.

My favourite part of Aotearoa Rockstars has to be the older people who were extremely enthusiastic and excited when we came up to them. Often these people came to greet us weekly and sometimes even brought others with them the following week. I felt really lucky to be offered the opportunity to share our Reo and make people like this smile.

I’d encourage everyone to do their own part to spread the Māori language wherever they can even if you only start in your house.

The students involved were Stella Archer, Jess Biddle, Holly-Beth Campbell, Anika Cattanach, Eligh Fitzgerald-Broad, Mahina Kanatova, Malachi Kereama, Poppy Knight, Andrea Maro, Dustin Marshall, Zak McKellar, Aroha Goodman, Taylah Peek, Daniel Ruge, William Ruge, Jasmine Turner-Bartlett, T Wilson.