Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 24 (October 1958)
– 1 –

TE AO HOU
THE NEW WORLD

No. 24 (Vol. 6 No. 4)

TEACHING THE MAORI LANGUAGE

There was widespread satisfaction among the Maori people when it became known that the education authorities had organised a refresher course for teachers of the Maori language.

Few issues concern the modern Maori more than that the country at large should show an interest in and a respect for his language. The Education Department, by trying to improve and develop the teaching of Maori in the schools, has done just that and the Maori people are very pleased to see it.

There is no doubt that the refresher course, held in Rotorua last May, was a success. This was due to good organisation and full support from the authorities and—especially—to the competent and devoted teachers who went to the Course. There is hardly anyone teaching Maori in th schools today who is not an idealist, a brilliant improviser and immune from obstacles that would daunt the ordinary person.

Their main difficulties in the past have been of numbers, lack of training and lack of teaching aids. The course went to the bottom of the problem and undoubtedly members were taught many useful things about the structure of Maori and about how it should be taught as a school subject. The last few hours were given over to remits and from a very full heart, the course framed a long list of the things that are needed to make their teaching reasonably successful—textbooks, records, films and more adequate teacher training.

Two ideas from the refresher course are of special concern to this magazine. One of them was a remit approving th practice of marking long vowels in Maori and stating a preference for doubling the vowels rather than using macrons. This would enable us to distinguish between words like ‘tata’ (garment), ‘tatãT (to be inflammable) and ‘tãtãT’ (terrace). We find double vowels (like ‘tataa’, or ‘taataa’) in many of the oldest Maori manuscripts and many Maori proper names and borrowed words have double vowels. We are not opposed to adopting the Conference's proposal, but while the matter is still under discussion ‘Te Ao Hou’ will publish all Maori manuscripts in the spelling in which they are submitted—either with double vowels, or macrons, or without any marking of the double vowel, although we feel sure some form of marking is highly desirable.

The other point we wish our readers to consider is this: Teachers of Maori are badly in need of good modern Maori texts for their children to read. ‘Te Ao Hou’ is anxious to get such texts—interesting simple stories especially for our younger readers. I hope that the many people who could well write such stories will open the portals of their knowledge and send us what they have. Their children and grandchildren will be grateful for it.