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Ara Business Development Team share Kaharoa Manihera’s story during national Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

On Thursday the 17th of September, The Business Development Team at Ara Institute of Canterbury held an event to acknowledge Te Reo and Tikanga Māori at Ara Visions Restaurant during the national Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori within Mahuru Māori 2020.

The kaikōrero (speaker) featured during the presentation was Kaharoa Manihera, Senior Advisor – Ngāi Tahu and Māori Relationships, Office of the Chief Executive – Christchurch City Council. Kaharoa’s advisory role means that he forms a vital connection between the Mayor plus Council elected members and the six Ngāi Tahu marae within the region.  He also works to help council staff to successfully engage with marae and hāpori (community). 

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Kaharoa took the opportunity to share his perspective upon his work with the City Council and the importance of connecting culturally to the region’s whenua (landscape), its people and its language, emphasizing that an indispensable part of this is supporting the revitalisation of te reo Māori, the foundational language of Aotearoa.

International research demonstrates that multiple benefits are derived from citizens speaking more than one language, with richer neural connections enhancing the ability to think more empathetically, creatively and laterally, entertain differing perspectives, and gain a stronger sense of self and cultural identity.

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The New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Education has explicitly stated that “All Māori language learning opportunities, including learning te reo Māori in English-medium schools and tertiary settings, contribute to these outcomes.”

And although the process of cultural assimilation sees many immigrants purposively distancing themselves from their linguistic ancestry over a few generations, it is a fundamentally different matter when Māori begin to lose their language through systemic design. Aotearoa is the home of Māori cultural, language and identity, and when a language is no longer spoken in its homeland, the chances are high that it will vanish forever, taking with it a huge repository of cultural and ecological knowledge.

The New Zealand Government’s focus for 2020 is to foster the reclamation of te reo Māori which directly fosters the continuity of Māori culture, traditions and history.

As part of a nationwide action instigated by Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori, the Māori Language Commission, all New Zealanders were asked to speak Māori at lunchtime on Monday.

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While commission chief executive Ngāhiwi Apanui estimates that up to a million people would be simultaneously speaking te reo Māori, historically the concern has been that active use of the language has been waning. In recent years, the Māori language sector has begun expanding, with over 100,000 learners enrolled in te reo Māori courses at tertiary education providers since 2001. However, increasing the number of te reo Māori speakers and providing Māori with a greater opportunity to both speak te reo Māori and more fully participate and succeed in Aotearoa society and on the international stage is made more difficult by the shortage of qualified te reo Māori teachers and a lack of a wide range of teaching and learning resources.

Kaharoa, an Ara (CPIT) alumni – graduating in 2012/2013 with a Bachelor of Māori Language via Ara’s Centre for the Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) - identified the CAPL process as an expeditious way to address these challenges.  

“I worked with a couple of Ara graduates and they told me about a program called CAPL. They said “this is what you should do; I said ‘what is it?’ and they filled me in. So I came to Ara, and heard about the CAPL program and got introduced to the Manager. He told me that there is a qualification – a Bachelor of Languages for Maori - that would be a backdoor way of getting a qualification. But it’s more than that; it allowed me to get a qualificaiton without having to pass Maori 101.”

Ara’s Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL) is a facilitation and assessment service that uses Ara staff and resources to evaluate industry experience against the academic requirements of a degree. CAPL facilitators support learners to identify, articulate, reflect upon and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and learning gained through professional or community experience plus any prior study, creating an individualised pathway towards a degree qualification, delivered to fit with individual time-frames and schedules.  Another advantage is the process can normally be completed within one year, allowing students to gain their degree for the cost of one full year of study instead of three.

Programs such as Ara’s CAPL process seem to offer NZIST a constructive method by which to to help fulfil its statutory requirement to achieve equity for Māori learners, a goal reflected in its charter.  The new organization must “…hold inclusivity and equity as core principles, recognising and valuing the diversity of all of its learners, and providing the unique types of support different learners need to succeed; and meet the needs of all of its learners, in particular those who are under-served by the education system, including… Māori…learners.”