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Maori language narratives as curriculum

Ballara (1986) argued that when children hear te reo Maori utilized by a variety of media platforms; when they see it adequately taught as a respected and important part of the curriculum; when they identify it to be a language of prestige and mana; and when they know it to be the language used at all levels to discuss wider socio-historical, political, and economic issues, then societal transformation occurs. As linguafaction creates factions and barriers (in the past Maori children found it increasingly harder to verbalize their experiences of school and the wider world through their mother-tongues), Maori language re-generation is enabling (children can re-interpret and verbalize their worlds through their ancestral language and thought). It allows different stories to be told. It provides the tools of critique—making it possible to consider other likelihoods. When the intergenerational transmission of te reo Maori is ensured, then language shift (from Maori to English) will have ceased, linguafaction eliminated. Te Whariki (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 1996), in its embryonic state, cannot afford to remain a tokenistic gesture. When Maori/English bilingualism is fully endorsed for the nation’s children then Aotearoa will have finally lived up to its Treaty responsibilities and obligations. The deterritorialized spaces will have become fertile grounds for the advancement of te reo Maori—and Te Whariki can finally take flight. From the perspectives that have been put forward in this book, the importance of reclaiming indigenous stories, Maori narratives, is the essence of what defines quality in education for New Zealand learners. It is in Kohanga Reo that the kiwi-feathered cloak is woven. Kohanga Reo is to be cherished. It is stated that all learners in Aotearoa/New Zealand should have access to, and participate in, high-quality Maori language early learning; that is, Maori language should be a part of the core curriculum in early years’ education and beyond. This has implications for all who want to be teachers in Aotearoa/New Zealand and gives expression to the idea espoused in the Ka Hikitia strategy (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2013) that it is Maori language that is what defines us as a unique culture and identity.

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