Te Tiriti o Waitangi in schools
Te reo Māori in schools
Can I speak te reo Māori in the classroom?
Yes. Te reo Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand. It’s protected as a taonga by te Tiriti. The New Zealand Government has committed to working in partnership with Māori to promote the language for future generations.
If you’re Māori, it goes against your human rights to punish or tell you off for speaking te reo.
The right to speak your own language is also a human right recognised in international law. Under the Human Rights Act, it’s unlawful to exclude or disadvantage you because of your ethnicity.
Te Ture mō te Reo Māori/the Māori Language Act 2016, ss 4, 5A and 6A; United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, art 30; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art 27; Human Rights Act 1993, s 57.
Can I do my assessments in te reo Māori?
Yes. If you want to sit your external exams fully or partly in te reo Māori, let your school know so they can arrange it.
According to the rules of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), secondary students sitting NCEA external assessments can answer their exams in English and/or te reo Māori. For most subjects, you can get translated examination booklets.
Does my school have to offer te reo Māori?
No, te reo Māori is not a compulsory part of the New Zealand Curriculum. But it’s taught at many schools.
Schools must take all reasonable steps to teach tikanga Māori and te reo Māori to all learners.
If your school isn’t offering te reo Māori:
- talk to the principal and let them know you’d like it to be offered
- ask to see the school charter (changing to “strategic plan” in 2024) to see what steps they’re taking towards these aims.
The Ministry of Education has developed curriculum guidelines to support teaching and learning te reo Māori in English speaking schools. If you’re at primary (years 7 and 8 only) or secondary school, you may be able to take Māori by correspondence.