top of page

Did you know the Maori Council wanted all teachers in training to be trained in Te Reo Maori? 1964

Did you know the Maori Council wanted all teachers in training to be trained in Te Reo Maori? 1964

Having published the annual report of the Maori Education Foundation the Council reflected on what was being suggested –

“Because of our better understanding of the difficulties of confronting the child of a minority culture, we now feel emboldened to ask the question; should a public school system such as we have in New Zealand make any concessions in curriculum and in teaching methods to the positive values of Maoridom? This is not to suggest a lowering of standards, but rather an effort to relate the elements of formal education to the powerful drives of Maori life. Any modifications in the content of the more formal subjects or in teaching techniques are unlikely to be great, but the effect on the learning progress of Maori children and on the attitude of these children and their parent to their teachers and schools could be tremendous. Such recognition of their special difficulties would almost certainly boost the confidence and self-respect of the Maori people…the urgent need today, without which the foundation and all constructive agencies will fail is for our teachers to cleanse their eyes of this blind spot and to recognise the Maori child, not as a retarded European, but as a creature of a different culture which they have a duty to understand. Until this happens the Maori child will continue to be handicapped in our schools.” (Annual Report 1968 of the Maori Education Foundation).

The New Zealand Maori Councils response at the time was very clear; “Recognising the need for teachers to be better prepared to understand Maori children the Council asked the Minster of Education to make the study of the Maori language and culture a “core” subject at Training College which would then be compulsory for all teachers in training. The Minister would not agree to this, perhaps with good reason, but we will continue to press the Education Department to much more than they have so far done to meet the needs of our Maori Children.” For a long time after the Council continued to press the case of the teaching of Te Reo Maori for teachers as well as culture. Later, towards the end of the sixties, the Council narrative began, for the first time, to include the teaching of Maori history. The Councils calls fell on deaf ears because, as was the undoing of the Maori Education Foundation, pakeha politicians of the time fell into the line of Minister of Maori Affairs, Jack Hunn, that assimilation was the strategy.

Māori Education Foundation

In 1961, the head of the Maori Affairs Department, Jack Hunn, proposed an educational foundation, the Maori Education Foundation (MEF), to promote education of Māori at secondary and tertiary level. Iwi throughout the country supported the MEF and formed committees to raise funds and promote MEF’s ideals amongst hapū and whānau. Although Māori organisations worked hard to raise money for the MEF, few Pākehā helped them, and despite funds being matched by the government’s treasury, its modest resources were soon outstripped by demand.

Te reo activism

Hunn promoted a policy of assimilation of Māori into the mainstream. His view on the limited usefulness of te reo (Māori language) was widely held by Pākehā – but not by Māori. Ngā Tamatoa and others petitioned Parliament in 1972 for te reo to be available in all schools for all pupils who wanted it, and the first group of fluent speakers of Māori were accepted into teacher-training programmes in 1975. The first of them were offered Māori language teaching positions in state secondary schools in 1976.

bottom of page