31 Jul 2015

Māori early learning centre pushing to expand

7:29 am on 31 July 2015

A new Māori early learning centre in Queenstown is pushing to expand its opening hours and offer the community more Māori education.

Rawinia Paringatai teaches Māori at Wakatipu High School, and said she opened Te Puna Ako O Tahuna because there was a lack of Māori education in the rohe.

The centre is currently only able to open for two hours on weekdays.

Ms Paringatai, who is part of a whānau organisation, said the centre hoped to increase its hours because demand is now high for tamariki to have a Māori-based education.

She said many parents told her they wished there had been a centre like Puna Ako O Tahuna years ago.

"Some of the feedback that we've had is 'wow, I've been looking for something for my children', so we've had mums here that have have come in that have children that are now seven and they wanted something like this to be her back then, but now they have younger children and they can bring them in."

Ms Paringatai said she would also like to introduce more comprehensive Māori language and culture into primary level education because she worries about what will happen to the tamariki who attend the centre's education when they move up to that level.

She said her next step would be to establish a dedicated primary level Māori teaching unit.

"Ultimately we've got huge wants, needs and desires. We don't exactly know how we're going to get there, but we're going to try and figure it all out. We would probably have to be part of an existing school and have a separate unit - and I think that's the way to go here in Queenstown."

Ms Paringatai said she was having discussions with the Ministry of Education about the best way to incorporate Māori education into the rohe.