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Few Schools Able to Develop Students’ Te Reo Māori Skills

Few English-Medium Schools Able to Develop Students’ Te Reo Māori Skills

Students who start with high proficiency in te reo Māori are unlikely to be supported to further develop their reo Māori skills in English-medium schools. While many teachers think it is important students learn te reo Māori, very few are able to use the language at more than a basic level.

These findings are from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) National Survey of Primary and Intermediate Schools 2016. The latest report to be released from the survey focuses on the experience of ākonga Māori (Māori students) in English-medium schools.

‘The findings highlight the unresolved question of how to increase the number of teachers proficient in te reo Māori,’ Kairangahau Matua | Senior Researcher Nicola Bright said. ‘This question will need to be addressed if te reo Māori is to be made universally available in schools.’

English-medium schools are increasingly aware they can support the wellbeing, identity, and achievement of Māori students by incorporating te reo and tikanga into school-wide practices.

‘Schools with high levels of ākonga Māori were most likely to have practices in place to support these students,’ Ms Bright said.

Most teachers (81%) agreed or strongly agreed that they ‘incorporate te reo Māori and tikanga Māori in my teaching in ways that promote Māori students belonging’.

But the survey also found that most te reo used in school is very basic. Around 80% of teachers used te reo for greetings and farewells, and instructions, while just 39% used the language in creative contexts, conversations, or to teach content.

The NZCER survey got responses from a nationally representative sample of 349 English-medium state and state-integrated primary and intermediate schools. The survey was conducted from August to September 2016.

The findings have been released in a series of reports, all of which are available on the NZCER website. The report ‘Ākonga Māori in English-medium primary and intermediate schools’ is available at:


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