Evaluation of Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori Publications
Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori is a programme funded by Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga (Te Tāhuhu) to develop teacher competency in te reo Māori (specifically pronunciation and use of te reo Māori), tikanga Māori and improved understanding of local stories.
Author(s): Prepared for the Ministry of Education by Te Paetawhiti Ltd & Associates (Roxanne Smith, Colin Hemana Bennett, Dr Shane Edwards, Kirimatao Paipa & Miromiro Kelly)
Date Published: October 2020
The intent being that participants of Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori will develop the skills and knowledge needed to apply their learning in ways that benefit tamariki and the wider school and early childhood context. The programme was piloted in 2019 in four regions (Ngāi Tahu, Kapiti-Porirua-Horowhenua, Taranaki and Waikato). Programmes were between 11 and 17 weeks long. Each provider developed their own delivery approach including weekend noho, evening classes, day classes, kura reo and wānanga. Any teacher residing in the pilot regions were eligible to register their interest to participate in the programme and those teachers who were accepted into the programme were eligible for teacher release funding. In its first year of implementation there were approximately 700 participants across the four regions.
In July 2019, Te Tāhuhu engaged Te Paetawhiti Ltd to evaluate Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori. The key aims of the evaluation were to test the implementation of Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori and understand the extent to which the kaupapa has led to impacts on teaching practice. The evaluation findings were intended to inform the future rollout of the programme. In total, 166 teachers participated in focus group interviews across all four regions; 27 provider staff participated in interviews; 259 teachers participated in the online survey and 68 educational leaders participated in an educational leader online survey.
The evaluation found that the intended outcomes of the programme were met.
Participants experienced significant improvements in their pronunciation of te reo Māori; they also felt more confident to use te reo Māori (kupu and phrases) as part of their everyday teaching. Some participants were also sharing kīwaha, whakatauaki, and waiata learnt on the programme with their students and colleagues. A smaller group of participants were making conscious efforts to include more local narratives and stories into their teaching programmes. Participants felt the content was hugely relevant although some secondary teachers and to a lesser extent early childhood teachers felt the content was pitched to primary schools making it challenging at times for them to apply their learning in their context. However, some encouraging examples were shared by early childhood, primary and secondary teachers of how they integrated more tikanga and mātauranga Māori into their teaching programme which might serve as useful exemplars for other schools.
The programme was well implemented.
The applied nature of all the pilot programmes meant that participants were encouraged to apply their learning into the classroom and feedback on what worked well and where they needed more support and guidance. This continuous improvement process kept the content relevant.
The registration process and communication regarding the programme needs improvement in order to ensure relevant information is shared with providers and participants in a timely manner. Information about the intent of Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori and the taumata needs to be communicated better by the Ministry. Participants also felt the programme content, course expectations, time commitments and assessments could be communicated better by providers. Most participants felt the programme was accessible (delivered in locations and at times that met their needs) especially those in small rural and isolated schools who often do not have the opportunity to participate in professional development. Teacher release funding was valued by educational leaders (and participants) who felt this support made it easier for them to commit their staff.
The facilitators of the programme (teaching staff) were considered key to the success of the programme. The facilitators were described as passionate, engaging, flexible, adaptable, non-judgmental, caring and patient. Participants felt privileged to be supported by experts in te reo Māori as well as champions of te reo revitalisation.
Finally, there was evidence of impact on tamariki use of te reo Māori, on the school/centre environment, on parents and communities and on relationships with Māori learners. However, this impact was not widespread with only a few examples evident across all the pilots. This could be due to participant confidence to apply and embed their knowledge in their context in the timeframe of the programme, especially in those schools and/or centres where only one person attended. However, the stories shared were compelling and suggest that the programme has resulted in teachers using te reo Māori and tikanga practices with their students in early childhood centres and primary schools. This has provided parents with the opportunity to inquire, learn and share their own knowledge with their children. It has also supported teachers to engage and connect more with their Māori learners in authentic ways. There was also an unintended impact on Māori teachers working in mainstream schools, in that they now felt they could share the responsibility of growing te reo Māori with their colleagues.
Areas for further consideration
While the pilots were implemented well with evidence of impact, there are areas that require further consideration should the programme be rolled out to other regions including:
- Supporting participation by secondary school teachers
- Supporting multiple staff to attend from the same school/centre
- In-school/centre mentoring, coaching and support
- Developing clarity around programme outcomes and graduate profile outcomes
- Improving communication and registration processes.
The most challenging aspect for participants and educational leaders was finding relievers, especially for those schools/centres who had multiple staff attend. Although finding relievers was a challenge participants preferred classes during the school week (and during school hours) to evening and weekend classes.
However, a range of options is probably preferable with the opportunity for participants to “make up” classes when they are not able to attend their scheduled class.
Educational leaders were particularly concerned about staff wellbeing, especially those staff attending evening and weekend classes; releasing staff during term four which is generally busy for reporting, assessment and exams (secondary only); balancing the benefits of having multiple staff attend the programme with the impact on school systems and student learning; finding time to support participants to identify their pathway beyond Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori; and identifying next steps for the school in terms of developing te reo Māori strategies.
The majority of participants are actively seeking further opportunities to continue their learning of te reo Māori and were particularly keen to be able to progress to the next level of Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori to build their confidence further and consolidate their learning.
In conclusion, Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori is more than a te reo Māori programme. It is an opportunity for teachers to engage and understand a different worldview; to engage in cultural practices, narratives and histories relevant to Aotearoa and to the system that supports the education of all students. The programme has enabled teachers with different skills and knowledge, from different schools, and from different sectors to come together in a safe place to learn. The programme has challenged, overwhelmed, invigorated and inspired. Participants agreed that Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori has added real value to them and the tamariki they teach and to see the training come to an end1 would be a lost opportunity to build on the momentum Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori has created.
- At the time of the interviews participants were not sure whether Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori would be continuing in the future, given the programme was a pilot.