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Maori Language Week: 3-10 July



Nau mai, haere mai ki te wiki o te reo Maori!


Welcome to Maori language week which, in my view, is a bit like saying ‘welcome to healthy eating week’ or ‘welcome to physical fitness week,’ because te reo Maori is not something we bottle up just to be used on one week of the year: at least, not at Wakefield School.  Still, we can appreciate the value of having a week where the Maori language is celebrated and all of us, Maori and non-Maori, are encouraged to give it a go and enjoy the pleasure and virtue of learning something new.


And it works.  If you were at our assembly last Friday you would have been struck by how well even our very young children speak te reo Maori.  The assembly was hosted by the children from Matai Kereru (five and six year olds) and they maintained te reo Maori throughout, from mihi to comments on each others’ presentations.  They showed spirit and resolve - kia kaha!


Language is a cornerstone of culture and identity - the more you possess the richer you become.  When we step beyond our first language and begin to explore others we expand our brains, our sense of self and our knowledge of the world.  When one of those languages is Maori we also in a small way become guardians - kaitiaki - of a national treasure.  Seen in this light, how many of our learner profile elements would learning Maori capture?  Communication, motivation, open-mindedness, respect, enthusiasm - to name a few.




We celebrate Maori language this week and always for enriching our lives and supporting our tamariki to become confident lifelong learners. 

Kia ora!

Peter Verstappen






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Here’s What We Mean by ‘Student-Led Learning’


Jordan, who is six years old, was recently appointed to our Student Council as a representative of Matai Kereru team.  Last week our Council meeting clashed with scooter training for Jordan.  He came to the office to tell me but I was out, so what did Jordan do?  He wrote me this letter:



To mistir vstn

Sore I cant go to the

Shooht cousool

Becose I

Got scooti

Chraning at



from Jordan.


I love this letter, for two reasons.  First, it is a beautiful expression of a child learning to write; look at how he has made sense of the words ‘student council’, you can hear Jordan picking out the sounds in his mind. 


Second, it is a beautiful expression of student-led learning.  You might ask, ‘what’s he learning?’ but consider this.  Here’s Jordan, 6, as a thinker: he knows he has an obligation to the Student Council, he sees he cannot fulfil it, he comes to tell me, that doesn’t work, he decides he needs to write to me so he creates this letter and brings it to the office.  This is even more impressive because Jordan doesn’t know much about the Student Council yet, he’s only attended one meeting, but he knows he has some sort of obligation to it.  Here’s Jordan as a communicator: if he can’t tell me in person, he’ll slave over this letter to get the message to me.  Here’s Jordan as a planner: he’s thinking ahead and balancing his commitments.  Okay, Jordan will have had some prompts from his teacher, but he’s taken up the challenge and look at what he’s achieved. 


I value the opportunities children have to be leaders at school through the Student Council, committees, monitors and other roles.  Their work in these roles contributes to the smooth running of the school, but as well as leading others they provide real occasions for children to lead themselves, to become masters of their own learning.  And that’s what a democratic curriculum looks like.


Have a good week,




Peter Verstappen 


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