This week was Māori language week. Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand – the others being English and Sign Language. Māori is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand.

Since I arrived in New Zealand, and especially since I’ve been teaching, I’ve been trying to learn a lot about Māori culture and incorporate it in my classes. I find it all fascinating and I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures and people. It’s even more awesome when I’m living here and it’s all around me.

Maori language week I decorated part of my classroom’s whiteboard for the week for Māori language week and updated it every day with what our school was doing.

We had some great events during the week like a staff vs students quiz, a student give a speech in Māori for his assessment, a performance by our Kapa Haka group, book displays in the library, daily quizzes in the notices, and Moko paintings.

I believe the top part translates roughly to “This is Māori language week.”

“Arohatia Te Reo” means “Cherish The Language” and was the theme for our Māori language week.

I also started writing the date in Māori. Since I didn’t really know how to do this, I had my students all teach me. They showed me how to write it and say it. It was a learning experience for everyone, I think. One of those times that it’s really a fantastic way for you to have your students teach you something. It’s something that a lot of them probably learned when they were in primary school and got a kick out of showing me.

a89f81bad6bc11e1b9a5123138140995_7 Thursday was one of my favourite days. Not only is Thursday one of my favourite days every week because it’s my least busy day that falls right after my busiest day but this Thursday the students did Moko pantings. A moko is a traditional Maori tattoo. They contain ancestral and tribal significance to the wearer and would tell a story of their tribe, family, and place in social structures. Getting a moko on your face is the ultimate statement of someone’s identity as a Māori. Many Māori people had a facial moko. Women often wore theirs on their chin. My students had me get one but don’t worry – it is not permanent.

Comments on this post

  • “Nau mai, haere mai” means ‘Welcome, come in!’ so it’s more like ‘Welcome to and join in Maori Language Week.’

    It’s really awesome that you’re embracing Te Reo. I actually think it’s sad that we need to have a week for it because it should really just be commonplace.

    • Thank you! I knew I didn’t have it quite right.
      I totally agree with you. Our staff has a Māori professional development at every staff meeting which I think is pretty excellent. Some of the staff probably know a lot of it already and don’t get a lot from it but I learn HEAPS.

  • That seems like such a cool language and a fascinating culture. I hope you had a wonderful week learning and embracing the culture :)

  • I love that you teach your students things and they teach you too! What did they use for the facial moko that you had done on yourself?

  • I love learning about new cultures as well! I had no idea there was another language besides English spoken in NZ. Shows how much I know! Fascinating. :D I love that you’re embracing it and trying to learn much about the culture there. Have fun with it! — oh, and thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Caity,

    This was educational for me. I didn’t realize there was a native language in NZ. I loved the tattoo. It’s amazing that so much could be told via a tattoo. It’s also cool you’re still wearing the knit hat I learned the last time I visited.

    I can tell you really enjoy teaching. It’s good to find work that pleases the soul as well as the pocket book. You re lucky:~)

  • Sounds like you had an awesome week, I have always loved tribal tattoos and the meaning behind them.

  • Every time you write about what you are teaching your students makes me wish I had a teacher like you growing up.

  • I wish I was able to have the ability to retain another language. I grew up with a half Italian/half English kind of a household and while I know a few words here and there – I’m by no means Fluent in Italian at all. Māori on the other hand seems even more difficult but I guess if you’re around it every single day it tends to come more naturally. I think it’s really cool that your students are just as influential in the learning of the culture. Getting it straight from the “horses mouth” so to speak, seems like a really fun way to keep them interested in the day-to-day schooling experience.

  • That’s really interesting that you get to learn all the new culture :)

  • OMG, Girl, you’re spelling favorite favourite, now. Good on ya, Mate, you’re a true N. Zealander!

    Nice tattoo!


  • I can’t help but imagine this as a little French goatee..

  • You really need to Blog more!.. I love your Blogs!

  • It’s awesome that you’re incorporating Maori into your curriculum. I bet it gives your students a little extra knowledge to have alongside the lessons they get regularly. Seeing that it’s part of the local culture, it’ll benefit them greatly.

    Reading about women putting a moko on their chin was something new to me. The patterns are beautiful.

    Thanks for that tidbit. Hope you’ve been well!

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