New Māori dictionary helps school children embrace te reo

Pirongia School students are among the first group of students to get their hands on "Kiwi and Friends" - a Māori Picture dictionary by Kat Quin and Pānia Papa. The book caters for children and adults from different levels of reo and is aimed to help normalise Māori speaking in schools and in the home.

Kathie Rifle (Ngāti Porou, Te Ati Awa) who spearheads the Reo Māori initiatives at the school was impressed by how the kids reacted to the book itself.

“They seemed really excited about it, they loved the illustrations, and finding some words that perhaps they won't normally find in other books, like pimple,” Rifle says.

Writer and illustrator Kat Quin says she wouldn't have even started the book without the go-ahead from Reo expert Pānia Papa, who Quin has associated and worked alongside many projects similar to this for the past 20 years.

“I've only ever worked with Pānia Papa with my pukapuka so it was important that she believed in it and when she got back to me, one of the key things we wanted that it be from a Māori point of view.”

This viewpoint is executed in the book by separating the words into different categories such as Marae, ocean, forests, and parts of the body.

“I think it's so important that all of us are embracing Te Reo Māori and also it's really good for the children's brains, it's been proven to be a powerful thing for brain development.”

The book is available online.