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Yothu Yindi, an aboriginal rock band from Australia, performing at the United Nations.
UN Photo 182295/J. Isaac

Learn more about Maori education:

Te Köhanga
outside link

Te Kete
outside link


Maori Schools

Role Play Debate

Maori Schools

Losing a Language
Native language-based educational programs in New Zealand began in the 1970s among the Maori peoples. After ten years, Maori educators became very concerned that the language of their people might be lost if something wasn't done on a national level. Thus, in 1981, the government's Department of Maori Affairs created The Köhanga Reo program.

This unique program is a holistic approach to the education of Maori children. Created and administered by Maori educators, Köhanga Reo has become a movement promoting Maori self-determination. Because language, values, and culture are central to the program's approach, families and communities are welcomed into the learning process. The curriculum promotes empowerment, holistic development, community and family, and healthy relationships for all Maori children.

Words of Hope
Maori educators also aim to create a sense of cultural pride and belonging for indigenous youth who may have suffered from discrimination or prejudice. While Maori youth are still over-represented in statistics of poverty, low educational achievement, suicide, crime, and poor health, indigenous educators have high hopes for alternative models of education.

They hope, for instance, that their students will "articulate a Native self-identity, be centered in their unique Native ways of knowing, and live as a proud Native people." Furthermore, indigenous education should help youth "negotiate confidently the boundaries between their Native and non-Native worlds and make choices that [maintain] self and cultural identity."

The Köhanga Reo program brings together the physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional aspects of students in order to achieve these goals and foster overall well-being for Maori youth. Currently, approximately 700 centers offer total immersion education in Maori language and culture, and the numbers are growing.

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Role Play Debate

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