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Belinda's kids - Learning Te Reo with your Kids

Learning Te Reo Maori with your child
with  Belinda Woodman from the Ministry of Education

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori - held in July each year - is a good time to learn about the Maori language with your child.

Why learn te reo Maori?

 Learning about the Maori language with your child is valuable because te reo Maori has an important role in New Zealand's identity and culture. Te reo Maori is central to the uniqueness of Maori people, it is one of New Zealand's official languages, and it is becoming everyday language in New Zealand - you and your child will hear te reo Maori in everyday life.

 The early years are the best time for your child to learn languages. When your child is young, the language pathways in their brain are still developing and it is easier to learn several languages. In many countries, it is common to grow up with two or more languages.

 Simple Maori phrases and songs are used at early childhood education services so it is positive and encouraging for your child to share this learning with you at home.

Ideas for using te reo Maori

You are the best person to teach your child new words and how to use them.

Start off learning some words and phrases in te reo Maori together. Start with simple Maori words:

  • Kia ora (hello)
  • Kai (food)
  • Pukapuka (book)
  • Ka kite (see you later)

Use Maori words and phrases in everyday settings with your child - when you pick up your baby, say: "Kia ora baby, kei to pehea koe?" ("Hello baby, how are you?").

Write out labels in te reo Maori for things around the home.

Read books that introduce new Maori words - you could get these from the library.

Read books with versions in both Maori and English.

Use Maori words to describe the pictures in books.

Make a special book of pictures of your family with Maori words underneath, such as tuahine (sister) or tipuna tane (grandfather)

Sing rhymes or waiata (songs) in te reo Maori, such as kei hea koe 

Encourage friends to help with pronunciation and vocabulary.

Play Maori music CDs and switch on to Maori TV and radio.

Books and stories

There are lots of wonderful books with Maori stories and pakiwaitara (legends) to introduce your child to Maori culture. The stories and pictures often explain the shape of land, hills and mountains, so your child will be able to see and relate to the places described.

Reading and sharing time together with your child builds the bond between you and your child. Reading together or sharing stories helps your child's language  and thinking skills, and shows them that books are fun.

Learning te reo Maori through early childhood education.

You might like your child to attend kohanga reo, which is a whanau-led early childhood education service. Kohanga reo builds knowledge of te reo Maori and tikanga (culture) with close involvement of parents and whanau (family).

When your child reaches school age, they may be able to go to a kura kaupapa or enrol in a bilingual unit at school.

More information

Visit the Korero Maori website for more information on Maori Language Week and the history of the Maori language.

Have fun giving te reo a go!

For more activity ideas, see Things to do at home.

For more ideas and tips, find a full list of topics on Parenting for Early Learning at  Team-Up.