Te Kōrero Māori ki ngā Tamariki I roto i ngā karu o ngā kaiako hou Speaking Te Reo Māori to Children: From the Perspective of Early Childhood Teachers
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This research aligns with the bicultural orientation and vision of the early childhood curriculum of Aotearoa New Zealand: Te Whāriki He Whāriki Mātauranga mo ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early Childhood Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1996) and the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand Te Tiriti o Waitangi. My research illuminated evidence that early childhood teachers were speaking very little te reo Māori to children, despite the Ministry of Education stressing the importance of the early childhood sector having an authentic connection with Māori (Paki, 2007). The level of te reo Māori spoken to children by nine qualified early childhood teachers, was explored, as well as implications impeding their proficiency in speaking te reo Māori. Those sampled included both bilingual and monolingual teachers, however; none were fluent in te reo Māori. Research data was collected via observations, semi-structured interviews, and interviews via email, throughout 2014. Six barriers which impeded teachers implementing the bicultural imperatives of Te Whāriki were identified, one of which was their fluency in te reo Māori. An unexpected finding of this research, was that teachers misinterpreted the bicultural curriculum, within the context of Te Whāriki. Teacher accounts indicated that despite a mandate to protect and sustain te reo Māori me ngā tikanga, the Ministry of Education and tertiary institutions have not sufficiently supported teachers in speaking te reo Māori with children. One of the challenges of this research concerned my own beliefs at the lack of spoken te reo Māori from teachers to their children. Suggestions for further research include identifying what is still missing to enable teachers to effectively implement the bicultural imperatives of Te Whāriki as well as, looking at the bicultural content of teacher education programmes.