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Education Perfect accelerates Māori language through tech
Wed, 7th Sep 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The New Zealand Government's target is to have 1 million speakers (about 20% of the New Zealand population) of basic Te Reo Māori by 2040, and for 150,000 to be very proficient.

According to Education Perfect (EP), with its technology and reach, it can fast-track this goal, and well before 2040.

Following the strong uptake of its Māori language and cultural programs delivered in primary and secondary schools across the motu (50,000+ students and 7,000+ teachers participating to date), EP launched its Te Ao Māori for Professionals and Te Ao Māori for Everyone courses in 2021. These online courses are designed specifically to assist business people and everyday Kiwi to learn about Māori language, culture and Aotearoa New Zealand histories while helping to normalise the use of Te Reo Māori in the workplace and at home.

Since launch, over 75 companies across Aotearoa, including Spark NZ, EY, 2degrees, Z Energy, PwC, Amazon Web Services, Chorus and South Island District Health Boards, have partnered with EP to provide Māori language and cultural education to their kaimahi (staff).

"Having a well structured, informative and highly engaging course that is accessible to all of our employees was the initial draw card for our organisation," says JB Rousselot, chief executive at Chorus.

"The fact that the course is fully customisable and provides rich data and analytics to track our teams progress and company goals, made EP the best choice for us," he says.

Joseph Tyro, director Māori Health, Te Whatu Ora | Health NZ: South Canterbury, adds, "EP Te Ao Māori for Professionals is an accessible and flexible online course that can be offered to all of our staff, regardless of location, that directly supports our strategic plan to build cultural confidence and capability within our organisation and teams." 

EP is a digital learning platform used in over 60+ countries around the world, but it is still significantly under-utilised in its home country and not supported by the New Zealand Government.

"Today, EP has the ability to support every school and student in Aotearoa New Zealand if the government partnered with this Kiwi Edtech company," it says.

"This would significantly boost the normalisation of the Māori language and culture across the country. In addition to this, any business of any size in New Zealand could start to build awareness, confidence and proficiency in the language immediately."

To celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), Education Perfect is again launching the largest online Māori language competition in the country, with challenges to test everyone - from school students, to business professionals, and everyday New Zealanders. In 2021, 515 schools participated in the free online competition, and record participation is again expected this year.

"A language cannot be learnt in isolation; to be authentic, one must immerse themselves in the culture and connect with its people. Therefore, our akoranga (lessons) are not Māori language focused alone, participants are also introduced to tikanga (etiquette) and thuhu krero (Aotearoa New Zealand History)," says Te Rau Winterburn, Kaiwhakahaere Kaupapa Māori - Head of Māori Initiatives at Education Perfect.

"We are passionate about playing a major role in scaling Māori language and cultural education in the schooling system, in the professional world and for every Kiwi," adds Alex Burke, the CEO of Education Perfect. 

"Running the largest online Māori language competition in the country each year during Māori Language Week is a great way to create awareness and encourage people to get involved."

Anybody can join the fun and test their own Māori language knowledge and skills during Māori Language Week, beginning 9am Monday 12th September through Friday 16th September. The official school competition will run until 4pm Wednesday 14th September, with the Professionals and Everyone competitions kicking off 9am the same day.

"We are hoping that people will pick up simple words and phrases that they may be able to use every day at the dinner table, for example, or while shopping and we can begin to build social momentum and normalise the use of Te Reo Māori," says Te Awe Davis, Kaikkiri Māori - Māori Initiatives Implementation Lead.

The competition is free and open to all New Zealanders. It can easily be accessed using an active EP Student account, or via the dedicated EP App called EP Student.

"With the whakataetae (competition) now open to all New Zealanders, this kaupapa is a really fun and accessible way for all Kiwi to engage in Te Reo Māori while celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori regardless of where they are in motu," says Winterburn.