Ko Taku Reo: Deaf Education NZ is a unique school that spreads across Aotearoa, from Cape Reinga to Rakiura.
The school meets the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students from Early Childhood through to Year 15+. While Deaf education in Aotearoa has a history dating back to 1880, Ko Taku Reo is just one year old, forming from the merger of the Kelston and van Asch Deaf Education Centres.
Language and communication is central to all that they do and they are working hard to have a trilingual presence.
Currently, English and New Zealand Sign language (NZSL) are their primary languages of communication, but including and growing the use of te reo Māori is an important goal.
New Zealand Māori Sign Language
New Zealand Māori Sign Language is not yet a fully developed language. However, there are now many signs that reflect Māori concepts from a Māori worldview. Their meetings begin and end with karakia which are both spoken in te reo Māori and signed in NZSL.
Their Deaf and hearing staff are very aware of the importance of getting language right. Just like te reo Māori, NZSL has been an oppressed language and this is even more the case for the language of Turi (deaf) Māori. Many Turi Māori have not had the opportunity to truly connect with their cultural identity and often feel like they do not belong or fit in within Māori communities.
Strengthening cultural identity amongst our Turi Māori students and staff is an important focus for Ko Taku Reo.
Getting as many people as they can to join Mahuru Māori is one tool, however Māori sign is absent from the wealth of resources available.
Ko Taku Reo Mahuru Māori Challenge
So they’ve come up with their own challenge to sign
Kia ora is a salutation that means “Be Well”. In te Reo Māori we use ‘Kia ora’ in a variety of ways.
Pepeha - Tribal saying
A pepeha is a tribal saying that shows the connection of an individual to their tribal landmarks and whakapapa/ancestry. There are two variations.
Ko wai tō ingoa? - What is your name?
In te reo Māori we do not ask ‘what’ is your name, but ‘who’ is your name or simply ‘who are you?’ The word ‘wai’ means water and so the question ‘Ko wai koe?’ is asking: “From whose waters do your come?” This question connects us with our whakapapa (the waters within the womb) and also the waters and lands that we connect to.