Principals react to language promise

Tauranga Labour candidate and Merivale School Principal Jan Tinetti. File photo.

Learning a second language at primary school is a ‘nice to have', but isn't a priority at the moment, according to local school leaders.

The National Party announced on Sunday their plans to invest $160 million over four years to give primary school pupils the chance to learn a second language, if they so choose.

Tauranga Labour Party candidate and Merivale School Principal Jan Tinetti says this is at least the second time National has promised to teach children another language.

“When Lockwood Smith first announced the policy in 1993, I was a reasonably new teacher. I was quite excited then, but I'm yet to see it reach fruition.”

She's sceptical of the idea, particular in regards to the logistics of potentially teaching every child a second language.

“I'm not sure about their budget, either – it equates to about $75 per child for a year. I think there are so many other things that need sorting in our system first. It's not a priority.”

For Jan, the real work remains to be done around special needs students.

“Without a doubt, principals and teachers want special needs sorted and they want to see the money go into that. Teaching kids a second language is a good aspiration to have, but get the other things right first.”

Other local school leaders agree. Tauranga Primary School Principal Fiona Hawes says learning a language isn't compulsory in primary schools, although a degree of Te Reo is part of her school's curriculum.

“Language learning is a fantastic thing for kids, but it would require a huge government investment. Is it our greatest need currently? I'm not entirely sure. There are more questions than answers at the moment.

“Special education is our greatest challenge moving forward, so I'd rather see more staff funded in that area.”

Greenpark School Deputy Principal Jason Mischewski calls the proposal ‘interesting'.

“Certainly at Greenpark School we offer children opportunities to be exposed to other languages – we have Mandarin and Korean classes at times, as well as ongoing Maori language development.”

However, like Jan and Fiona, he'd rather see more funding for special needs education.

“A focus for us is special needs coordinators. The funding would probably be better used in that area. You sometimes wonder, politically, if the government has got its finger on the pulse. If you went to school and asked them what they really need or want, it would be quite different.”

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has called the government's entire $379 million education package, including the funding for second languages, a ‘wise' investment.

“We owe it to our children to wisely invest to ensure they leave school equipped with the skills they need to succeed in the modern world.

“I'm particularly excited that every child who has an interest in learning a second language will have the option to do just that – whether that is mandarin, French, Te Reo or New Zealand Sign Language.

“Languages bring a new perspective to life, making it full of opportunity and outward looking, as well as connecting us to the world. When it comes to international trade these skills are more important than ever.”

He says as a busy father of three, he's also looking forward to being able to track his children's academic progress on his mobile phone.

“That's 21st century education.”


@ Bella Affliction pt2

Posted on 21-09-2017 19:45 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Based on the numbers about 1.0-1.5% of the NZ population consider that they are fluent in some or other form of TeRepo, that means about 20% of the part maori blood lines. This of itself states a clear message on how important it is right? Anyway if the only useful purpose of it is to teach others the same thing with the huge drawback that virtually no one in the real world understands or wants to undestand a word of it means the use is practicaly zero. One merely needs to get up to speed with the reality of it. Add to this that missionaries 'created' the written TeRepo language. The entire saga gets completely rediculous fast. The fact that you are not up on this reflects an obsessive addictin disorder where the desired answer becomes so important as to get to a point of total/utter control of self.

@ Bella-affliction

Posted on 21-09-2017 19:38 | By MISS ADVENTURE

A second language added to the knowledge base is indeed a good idea, however to state the obvious, languages come and go, they evolve and so in time change or dissappear. In the case of TeRepo language the case is clear on two very important features: first, 50+ years ago it did not exist in teh current form, in fact not even close as what exists now si a 'creation' of words form non-part-maori who wrote it down. Second Terepo has no use except to teach others the same thing all for no useful purpose. In the end the real place for learning a mother toungue at home. Add to this that to be realistic almost any other language has a use e.g. There are 100m japanese, a billion Indians, and 1.5 billion chinese.

Evolution, the unstoppable force.

Posted on 20-09-2017 08:44 | By R. Bell

Language is the base of all cultures. New Zealand was formed by the alliance of TWO peoples. Both languages should be honoured. It is as important for non Maori to honour the Maori language. Most do, some will never. Indisputable fact. A fundamental understanding is never useless as some claim. It fosters respect, it fosters understanding, it is the basis for the one people evolution, without it we can never be ONE PEOPLE. Robin Bell.

@ Bella-addiction

Posted on 19-09-2017 19:17 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Shouldnt our kids learn something useful and not nonesense? Shouldnt our kids be able to ciommunicate with as many people as possible? A common language has meaning, it allows a better understanding by most (I accept that is nto always true as Bella and Pappa make clear without even hhaving to say it). That is where the apparent local minority are at, seekign to implant to all that which most have little use for ever. maybe a cute-factor, maybe spin a coule a words and the novelity dies off rapidly when you figure that there is no future in it. let me know when you get up to speed on this rational and obvious result.

Ongoing Maori language development,

Posted on 17-09-2017 08:08 | By R. Bell

is the current policy for many schools. It's a compromise and difficult to measure regarding its true value. Groutby and others politicise the subject in an attempt to denigrate both Maori and government. Obviously preferring $billions of spending on criminal justice and corrections, rather than education to alleviate the social breakdown we currently experience. Will they ever learn? Robin Bell.

@Jan Tinetti

Posted on 31-08-2017 09:04 | By Papamoaner

Jan, I agree with you that there are other priorities, but I disagree that deferral is a solution. If we defer any particular subject on grounds of resourcing, the outcome is inevitable - it will never happen! I subscribe to the belief, popular in some quarters, that if you teach culture at a young age, maturity will benefit. It is evolutionary and I offer a quaint analogy for it - The Late Mr Lee Quan Yew figured that if he discouraged petty crime in Singapore, more serious crime would diminish. He implemented his experiment by draconian enforcement around littering. IT WORKED! It increased general respect for people and nation as well as respect for law and order, and endures to this day. Mr Lee made Singapore the safest country in the world to visit - safer than NZ in fact.


Posted on 30-08-2017 21:22 | By maildrop

I could also point to stories where YOU have actually referenced previous stories to try and "win" your argument. So you just shot yourself in the foot there old chap. I've told you before I'm not debating anything. (edited) So I will once again decline your invitation to join you and your imaginary friends in your "chat rooms". It says it all really because I hear that "chat rooms" are full of fake people telling fake stories in a desperate attempt to impress gullible fools or lure young people into their depraved clutches. Nuff said, leave you to it.

@Maildrop - offer too good to refuse!

Posted on 30-08-2017 16:05 | By Papamoaner

Your opening line says it all old chap - you are preoccupied with what "other people think" of you. In a kind of way "look, everyone is on my side" Well, let me reassure you that I don't give a tinker's cuss what others think. I am honest and frank on topic and that's all that matters to me. So here is my new challenge to you. How about a live debate on Te Reo for schools? Since you declined my earlier invitation to a chat room of your choice, how about group face to face on Skype? No opportunity for anyone to consult google or literature, just sort the men from the boys. Money where your mouth is and all that! Can't accuse me of fake stories after that can you old chap? C'mon, be brave !


Posted on 30-08-2017 14:26 | By maildrop

I could point people to the stories where you have called me worse than that, so if name calling is an example of lack of culture - you're president of the club old chap. Expressing opinions are okay by me and for most people on here but for you its not good enough. You have a need to "prove" others wrong with your sanctimonious claptrap. Classic narcissist. What is sad is the fake stories, multiple logins, stale jokes, Google regurgitation and mistaking old age for intellect. Judging by the comments others make people have seen through it now though. I should do what almost everyone else is doing, ignore you and laugh at you (not your jokes though), but I can't. Too much fun.


Posted on 30-08-2017 08:39 | By Papamoaner

True! But all parties indulge in the practice at every election, and some promises are just too expensive to be credible, vide Labour's current student fees promise. The cost of Including extra languages in school curriculum doesn't fall into that category. It's interesting to note that another poster wades into the argument with name-calling insults and not much else of substance - not just a classic symptom of nothing to contribute, but also a classic example of an upbringing devoid of any culture, therefore no respect for anybody beneath a thin veneer of respectability. Actually the worst kind. Confirms my argument that if we don't catch these kids at their young impressionable age, they will grow up to be like our friend, ever intolerant of an opposing view on anything. Sad.


Posted on 29-08-2017 18:09 | By overit

Well said. I am just loving all these election promises SUDDENLY popping out of the woodwork. Still wont get my vote National.

Sanctimonious twit

Posted on 29-08-2017 16:25 | By maildrop

Groutby has it spot on. First 6 comments all valid. It's amazing how some people are blind to the realities faced by hundreds of thousands as they sit in their ivory tower looking down on others with their constant preaching. Arts are all well and good if you have the basics in life like a house or job. Laters Moreporky.

Now, or the future?

Posted on 29-08-2017 11:01 | By Papamoaner

The first three comments below are about NOW. The stated policy looks to the FUTURE and I reckon it's fair enough, especially where we are talking about education. Let's not forget that today's kids are tomorrow's adults, and the culture of our nation is just as important as health, education, and law & order. It's our culture that has the most long term impact on how we behave towards each other and towards others. Our agility with Language, communication, and the arts are an important part of that culture. Old age has its advantages - the blinder we get, the more we can see.

@ backofthequeue

Posted on 29-08-2017 09:58 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Its all about the election and sucking up to get in.


Posted on 29-08-2017 09:57 | By begesch

New Zealand is bilingual. English and Maori, if kids learn both languages, it will help them learn other languages much easier when they chose to. It's a shame that a 'national language' is not thought in our schools

I suspect where it came from...

Posted on 29-08-2017 09:21 | By groutby

....was the call to the Government by the Maori Party and others to have TeReo made compulsory in all schools, so, in an attempt to appease everyone and avoid the all to common "racist" card, the incumbent government have announced this in a hope to satisfy all concerned, at least for now. That's my take on it anyway, it does seem a bit "left of field tho.....

Where did that come from?

Posted on 29-08-2017 08:58 | By backofthequeue

With all the talk of record homeless, record immigration, record suicide, etc. it leaves me absolutely gobsmacked that Mr English finds this type of "fluff" to be relevant to re-election.


Posted on 29-08-2017 08:17 | By Merlin

More pressing issues than this could be done with $379 million.This is not a vote catcher for me.The Government has lost their way again.

Not needed

Posted on 29-08-2017 08:08 | By paul

I wonder how many politicians can speak dual launguagesNot manySome cant even speak their own eh winston

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