National | Education

Mechanic course first to be offered in Te Reo Māori

A new initiative by Ara, formerly the Christchurch Polytechnic will see students studying automotive engineering in Te Reo Māori.

Ara is in the process of converting its workbooks and assessments for its level 3 automotive engineering course to Te Reo Māori after a request from a student educated in kura kaupapa Māori.

“Ara has a policy that it must consider opportunities for learners to be assessed in Māori if a competent translator and assessor can be found," Ara’s academic quality assurance manager for trades, Julie McIlwraith, said.

She said when the request came through, the polytechnic moved to create the course, a first of its kind in the sector.

One of the challenges was deciding how to handle the terms for car parts thatdon’t have Māori names.

Reimana Tūtengaehe, the Ara tutor responsible for the translations, explains says they had to think about whether to use transliterations, such as ‘kāpareta’ for carburettor or create their own terms and submit them to Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo - the Māori Language Commission, or to use the English terms.

Lack of vocabulary

In the end, they decided to use the English terms, Tūtengaehe arguing it was ‘the best choice given the lack of appropriate vocabulary in the language’.

“It will provide a gradual growth rate for the language and speakers," Tūtengaehe said.

“We accept that, currently, our learners will end up in workplaces that use the English technical terms and we need to ensure any anticipated barriers to employment are minimised,” Mcilwraith said.

“We are looking forward to the time when this does not even need to be a consideration."

Mcilwraith says that might not be far off, since the student who first requested the literature in te reo Māori says they hope to open their own mechanic business where te reo Māori is the primary language for both staff and customers.

"For me, this is a good first step toward providing speakers of Māori with an environment that lets them know that their language is not foreign to this land and should not have to be foreign to the disciplines in which they wish to learn,” Tūtengaehe said.

Public Interest Journalism