Councils invest in te reo Maori classes

BENEFICIAL: Environment Canterbury, the city council and Selwyn District Council all felt the classes benefit the organisations.

Councils in Canterbury are spending thousands of dollars to teach their staff and elected representatives Te Reo Maori.

Environment Canterbury leads the way with fortnightly classes running since March
last year. The regional council spent $53,425 on Te Reo
classes.

Currently 127 staff and councillors are currently taking part in the programme, ECan said. 203 staff and councillors have taken part since the beginning

Said an ECan spokeswoman: “Prior to 2017, the majority of staff and governance had little or no experience of Te Reo Maori, or understanding of matauranga Maori/Maori knowledge, and the value this brings to our work as kaitiaki/stewards of the environment.”

Usage of Te Reo Maori is now “business as usual,” ECan said.

The city councill started providing Te Reo Maori lessons to staff and elected officials in July last year. It has so far spent $26,981.

Currently, 72 staff and elected officials are taking part in the programme.

Since classes started last year, 250 staff and elected officials have previously participated.

Lessons are undertaken by a qualified teacher and overseen by the council’s Ngai Tahu and Maori relationships team, a city council spokeswoman said.

“These courses assist staff and elected members to fulfil their obligations under the
Local Government Act and other legislation in relation to Maori interaction and contribution to relationships and decision making processes.”

The city council has received positive feedback from the participants, she
said.

The Selwyn District Council is the latest to join the group, with classes starting in August.

The district council has spent $5000 on the programme with 44 staff and elected members in the programme.

The district council has so far held 20 hours of classes and a council spokesman said the classes are “extremely
valuable”.

Waimakariri District Council did not respond to questions from The Star.

Investment in Te Reo Maori Environment Canterbury $53,425 267 hours Cost per hour: $200.09 Christchurch City Council $26,981 210 hours Cost per hour: $128.51 Selwyn District Council $5000 20 hours Cost per hour: $250

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Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board member Catherine Chu is part of the city council’s classes and is enjoying the experience.

Ms Chu started learning Te Reo Maori last month.

“I love it. The first session was really slow because everyone is at different levels,” she said.

“I went in with the expectation to just learn the language itself but [we are learning] the history and culture, which I think is quite meaningful,” Ms Chu said.

She said she wanted to learn Te Reo Maori because it was “our heritage.”

“I think it will help us gain a sense of belonging and pride,” Ms Chu said.

She can already speak four languages – English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

“My parents are from South Korea, [at university] my major was Chinese and my minor was Japanese.”

Ms Chu said she intends to keep learning Te Reo Maori until she becomes fluent.

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