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Kupu and encouragement for whānau who would like to use te reo Māori with tamariki as part of play.

Learning language

There are many articles from Tākai that help us understand the process of learning language. Children learn incidentally – we don’t have to drill or teach them. Like everyone, they learn by repetition. We’ve learned about the need for repetition to make and strengthen brain connections. Also, learning happens easily when we are stress-free and enjoying ourselves.

We have created a pūtea of kupu Māori within the play activities. This means that whānau can regularly inject te reo Māori into their play with their tamariki. It’s not a full scale programme for learning te reo Māori, but it encourages the use of te reo Māori in an enjoyable and natural way. Whānau can also build on their reo learning through play, by keeping it fun and lively.

Little and often

Relevant kupu are provided with many of the play activities, with a few simple phrases to encourage their use.

Here are some words and phrases that might be useful to help the vocabulary lists in the play activities come to life.

Kia ora – Hello, thanks

Ka pai – That’s good

Tino pai – Very good

Mīharo – Wonderful, amazing

Haere mai ki konei – Come over here

Ko wai? – Who?

He aha? – What?

He aha tēnei? – What’s this?

He … – It’s a …

Kei hea? – Where?

Me tākaro tāua – Let’s (us two) play

Me tākaro tātou – Let’s (all of us) play

Me tīmata tāua? – Shall we (you and me) start?

Me tīmata tātou? – Shall we all start?

Anei te … – Here’s the …

Homai te … – Give me the …

Iti – Small

Nui – big

Whakarongo mai – Listen here

Kōrero mai – Talk to me

Titiro mai – Look this way

E noho – Sit down

Kia tau – Settle down

Kimihia – Look for it

Taihoa – Wait

Ka taea e koe – You can do it

Kua mārama koe? – Do you understand?

Kua mutu? – Are you finished?

Aroha mai – I’m sorry

Kei te pēhea koe? – How are you?

Māku e āwhina – I will help

He aha māu? – What would you like?

Horoia ō ringaringa – Wash your hands

Me kai tāua – Let’s (us two) eat

Me kai tātou – Let’s (all of us) eat

Other resources

You can download this booklet called Kei roto i te whare / Māori language in the home | Te Puni Kōkiri(external link). It’s designed to help whānau make decisions about learning and speaking te reo Māori.

It contains information about the importance of using te reo Māori, strategies to help families achieve their goals, and lists of Māori language phrases that are suitable for learning with whānau.

You can listen to Scotty and Stacey Morrison talk about their new te reo Māori language book(external link) on the New Zealand Herald website. This book is designed especially for whānau.