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New National Deaf Education School Named

Ko Taku Reo was today announced as the name for New Zealand’s new Deaf education school and network of services for Deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Ko Taku Reo merges the Kelston Deaf Education Centre in Auckland and the van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Christchurch into a single school, which will operate from the start of Term 3. It will be headed up by James le Marquand, who has been appointed as the new Executive Principal.

The school’s name takes inspiration from the whakatauki “Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria”, which means “my language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.”

Rather than being a direct translation, Ko Taku Reo evolves that whakatauki to say “my language is the plume of my identity.”

The name is about striving to go beyond learning to being about living - an organisation built on whanaungatanga, offering a place where parents and caregivers, their child and whanau can meet to find support and a sense of community.

Board Chair Dr Denise Powell says “the new school will work to nurture the wellbeing of New Zealand’s Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, as well as providing support and resources to help them reach their academic potential.”

“Ko Taku Reo will lay a solid foundation for strengthening the delivery of Deaf education in New Zealand,” says Dr Powell.

Importantly the new school’s name needed to be easy to sign.

The sign name communicates the growth and expression of identity and language. 

It includes a classifier for feathers to represent ‘plume’. Located on the shoulder - the same place as signs for Pride and Mana - it is symbolic of the wearing of a Maori cloak. This is a metaphor for Ko Tāku Reo wrapping around the student to support them and their whanau.

It also signifies the importance of tapping the shoulder in Deaf culture, which is considered a polite way to ask for someone’s attention.

The name was decided after consultation with students, staff and stakeholders, including the wider Deaf community and iwi to ensure it was appropriate.

“The consultation clearly showed a need to reflect our proud tri-lingual tradition – NZSL, English and Maori. I’m very pleased our name clearly and respectfully identifies us, while reflecting our new national direction and service delivery,” says Dr Powell.

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