Ka Ngaro Te Reo: Māori language under siege in the 19th century

Paul Moon

Otago University Press

In the early part of the nineteenth century, te reo was the main language of social and economic interaction in New Zealand.

But European settlers’ views of te reo hinted at what was to come: te reo was “… at best a linguistic antiquity … a worthless anomaly with no place in the colony’s progress.”

Different groups had competing views about what they wanted. The Crown wanted order; missionaries wanted Christian converts; settlers wanted land; and, Māori wanted laws.

Ideas about how their visions should be fulfilled also differed – the British “government” wanted to make as little impact on Māori as possible; politicians wanted Māori to adopt British language and culture; missionaries wanted to have Māori come to Christianity through te reo; settlers wanted a “civilised” population with which to share their beliefs and values.

Competing ideas often resulted in conflict and te reo came under seige.

In Moon’s view, much of the assault originated outside of government, including from philosophies and events such as the Enlightenment. By the close of the century te reo Maori had been supplanted by English as the main language of politics, commerce, education and social interaction.

Moon’s thoroughly researched treatise on the way te reo was usurped by English is a sad expose on New Zealand’s racist past.

Given developments in te Ao Māori, especially since the 1960s, I am sure the story isn’t over yet and I look forward to a sequel – Ka Puta Anō Te Reo perhaps? The book will be of use to readers, especially teachers and students of New Zealand history.

– Dr Paul Potaka

 

Better classroom relationships

Dr Maria Kecskemeti & Professor John Winslade

NZCER Press

When I read a book, I want it to challenge my thinking and also, hopefully, affirm some of my practice. This book ticks both boxes. If we are honest, we know that relationships underpin everything we do.

By way of lively case studies and practical advice, this book links a lot of what we know about collaboration, taking shared responsibility, and taking control of our personal identity and that of the profession. It builds strongly on the earlier work of Te Kotahitanga, Restorative Practices and, to a lesser degree, PB4L.

The authors state that our individual identities depend on relationships and ask whether we (students and staff) are autonomous individuals or whether we are relationally connected. They suggest we reflect on our practice and consider re-positioning and diffraction to support opening and strengthening relationships.

From this understanding, they arrive at a model of how to meet in a climate of listening, and listening from a place of curiosity – to support relationships, inclusion and understanding.

The following statement sums up the text, “In the rush … relationships in the classroom can be easily neglected. Yet teaching and learning are built on relationships.” Enjoy!

– Rikki Sheterline, principal, Turaki School

 

World-acclaimed educator Professor Yong Zhao is in New Zealand in late July, as a guest of NZEI Te Riu Roa. His innovative thinking challenges many of the current education shibboleths. His new book is Counting What Counts: Reframing Educational Outcomes. In it, he talks about the harmful effects of overemphasising test scores and the need for a more “humane” education system.

 

Reading changes lives

When 11-year-old T.A. told John Campbell on Radio New Zealand about the quality of her life living in a van with her family of eight, and he asked her what the hardest part was, she said not having enough batteries or space to read at night. The thing she wanted most was a library to read in.

In the movie Hunt for The Wilderpeople, 13-year-old Ricky Baker, both trouble and troubled, is a voracious reader who hunts the huts of the Urewera for books. They take him to his happy place.

Many of us lose ourselves in books, but for some reading is a lifeline, an escape into another world and a chance to explore other lives. Readers discover people who are in worst states than they are, meet people pulling themselves out of downward spirals, and learn how others have prospered despite the setbacks and challenges.

For young readers, true stories like Chinese Cinderella (Adeline Yen Mah), Malala, or Hope in a Ballet Shoe by Michella DePrince are epics of courage and triumph against injustice and suffering.

Novels, too, stories of refugees and orphans, the downtrodden and the victims of war bring empathy and understanding. When Campbell asked T.A., whose family had been relocated to Te Puea Marae, what she would say to the Prime Minister, she said he should “try to walk a while in my shoes”.

Eleven years old yet so wise.

Former teacher John McIntyre is a children’s bookseller and commentator: childbkwgtn@xtra.co.nz

 

Ancient and modern

Best new books for kids:

The Road to Ratenburg

Joy Cowley & Gavin Bishop

Cowley has created what is sure to become a modern classic with this fable of a charming rat family who must flee their bombed out home. Age 8+

Gladys Goes to War

Glyn Harper

Gladys Sandford loved to tinker with cars and drive at top speed. When World War I broke out, she knew she needed to do more than knit socks. Age 5+

The Doll’s House

Katherine Mansfield

Deliciously edited and illustrated version of the classic story for a younger audience. Its themes of prejudice and injustice are just as relevant. Age 8+

Rasmas/Ko Rāmā

Elizabeth Pulford

Te reo and English versions of an engaging story, involving an orphaned goat, about grief and changing family dynamics.