The Ara Institute of Canterbury launches a course in te reo Maori
A polytechnic in Canterbury is set to launch what it has called a one-of-a-kind trades course in te reo Māori.
The project, a level 3 automotive engineering course, was started by a former Kura Kaupapa student who raised concerns about English language assessments for those coming from Maori schools.
“Not only was the learner’s first language an official language, but Ara [Institute of Canterbury] has a policy that it should consider opportunities for learners to be assessed in Maori if a suitable translator and assessor can be found,” said Julie McIlwraith, Head of Academic Quality Assurance.
“When learners like this come with a variety of abilities, we need to be able to meet them where they are,” she said.
Lead translator Reimana Tūtengaehe translated and designed workbooks, marking guides, sample answers and assessments for the course, which he said was no easy task.
Developing a course like automotive engineering in te reo Māori involved several hurdles, including determining what needed to be translated.
Let’s take a term like carburetor. Other languages may use a transliteration, which might have been possible in this case: motorcar is already motokā.
“Transliterations largely depend on the individual’s understanding of the base language,” Tūtengaehe said, which made it difficult in the context of this course.
Another option would be to come up with a new word entirely, based on other words, descriptors or mātauranga.
Tūtengaehe said he initially liked the idea, but they came to rule it out because new words would have to be submitted to Te Taura Whiri, the Māori Language Commission.
“The terms would only exist in the documents provided here to Ara,” Tūtengaehe said.
Eventually, for terms like carburetor, he decided to stick with English.
“When learners complete their degree program here, they basically enter a work environment that doesn’t include any of these terms that we would have created, or terms that we would have transliterated,” he said.
Director of Partnerships at Ara Institute Te Tiriti, Te Marino Lenihan, said there is a need to strengthen vocational education at te reo.
For rangatahi emerging from kōhanga and kura kaupapa environments, there may be whare wānanga and university courses in te reo Māori, but there were few on the polytechnic vocational side.
“We are getting more and more enrollment from those who have gone through Maori middle schools,” Lenihan said.
“What we know from looking at Maori history in education is that our learners’ success has increased when our culture is part of the learning journey. It’s just another step on that journey. .”
Lenihan hoped that the automotive engineering course, when launched, would be a success and provide inspiration for other courses.
He described it as the start of a big push to incorporate more kaupapa and mātauranga Māori into study.
“We worked on our strategies and relationships with staff and learners to mentally prepare them to do this job,” Lenihan said.
“To not only integrate kaupapa and mātauranga into this program, but also to have the confidence to carry it out.”
If Ara succeeds with this initiative, it could have a domino effect for other tertiary service providers, he said.
The institute hopes to launch the fully translated course early next year.