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For the last 25 years Te Kokiri Development Consultancy in Levin has been providing community education, in one form or another, first and foremost as a Māori PTE, and since 2016 as a TEC funded ACE provider as well.

Te Kokiri Development Consultancy was established as an Incorporated Society and a registered Private Training Establishment in 1992. The founding member was Koro Hemi (James) Moses. Koro Jim has since died but Te Kokiri continues to express his dream: Mahi tahi mo te painga o te katoa - Working together for the benefit of all.

Now as the only TEC funded Registered Māori PTE in a region where nearly a quarter of the population is Māori, Te Kokiri is focused on providing tauira with their cultural needs. Unemployment is high, 50 percent above the national average, and it is a predominantly low skilled and low wage labour market. That means that many people are trying to enter the labour market, and many of those with jobs want to be able to move into more skilled, better paid work.

The organisation has an excellent track record of providing tailored foundation/community learning opportunities for priority tauira, and helping them succeed. As a past TOPS and more recently FFTO and Youth Guarantee provider Te Kokiri has delivered programmes in Trade Skills, Toi Māori, Retail, Employment Skills, Money Management and Basic Business Skills. The organisation’s EER process over the years has always confirmed that the organisation has strong industry networks and has been successful in getting targeted learners into work or further education.

In the past Te Kokiri was a working member of Te Aho - a Māori community initiative to raise Māori prosperity and wellbeing in the region. The organisation is also is a leader in the Providers/ Education Group which is focussed on improving literacy and numeracy and they are a member of the Māori business network, which went into recess for a while, but has now been re-established.

The new TEC ACE funding has allowed Te Kokiri to reintroduce parts of their TOPS raranga programme - Nga Mahi a Te Whare Pora - with its Te Reo content. This raranga programme, previously funded by MSD TOPS, was always highly regarded by the community, Toi Aotearoa, and galleries around the country. The ACE funding now also supports te reo classes.

The organisation is driven by seven kaupapa. Christine Warren (Ngati Raukawa, Ngai Te Rangi), the Tumuaki of Te Kokiri, says that of these manaakitanga and whānaungatanga are the two planned outcomes of their new ACE funding.

They define manaakitanga as: ensure that all Te Kokiri programmes and services are mana enhancing. And whānaungatanga as: create and enhance quality relationships that unite all parties in a common bond.

Staff and board members also support manaakitanga. Te Kokiri has an open door policy for all past and present tauira (including those on the ACE programmes), and once their programme is finished our staff keep in touch to make sure that they are either still in work or continuing with their studies or maybe just to have a catch up. Board members are available for one-to-one support.

Raranga

Last year, and again this year, about 60 people enrolled on the free ACE raranga course which has te reo embedded. It runs as ten noho, once a month for a whole weekend. The course includes: tikanga and kawa; waiata and karakia; traditional and contemporary weaving skills and techniques; conservation, harvesting/ preservation; professional practice; and design, style and creativity. Tauira work at their own pace. There is a mix of practical and written assessment which embeds their understanding of tikanga, kawa and te reo practices associated with raranga.

“They find people who are like themselves,” says Christine “and it gets them involved with the community. A lot do weaving for their family. They can make a korowai that wraps around the whole family. The course supports manaakitanga - so everyone is looking after everyone - sharing their knowledge and aroha. It makes people more confident about themselves and that spreads out into the wider community. They also become committed to our cultural environment and that can only be good for their whánau. When our kaupapa and tikanga are living with them for every hour of every day, then we have healthy families and a healthy community. Manaakitanga enhances their desire to learn and they pass this onto their whānau.”

Christine suggested that we ask the class to fill in a short questionnaire so we sent some questions: why they wanted to do the course, the three best things about the course and whether they wanted to continue with other learning once they finished the raranga programme. All but one said that they wanted to continue learning raranga - either at an informal level, or go onto formal programmes. All of those responding also mentioned the value of social contact, building friendships and the learning environment. As one person wrote, ”I love the nurturing environment. No mistakes, just learning opportunities”.

The raranga produced by tauira at Te Kokiri has been shown in National Art Exhibitions, the New Zealand Māori Market, Wearable Art Festivals, the National Weavers Hui and other regional exhibitions. Pieces have also been commissioned for the Horowhenua District Council’s new Te Takere Library.

Te Reo

Te Reo Māori L1 is a 36 week course run for three hours in the evening. While many of those enrolled are tangata whenua, some are not. Christine says, while they may not be Māori they may have mokopuna or partners who are and they want to be able to support their whānau and manaaki their children’s learning.

This basic course ran for the first time last year, and now a number of those participants have gone onto L2.

The questionnaire feedback from tauira for the te reo programme reinforced what Christine had told us. They had increased their confidence that they are able to learn, it’s fun, it’s empowering, it’s free, it supports friendships and participation in their community - and, it is for their children. Most intend to continue learning te reo Māori.