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Lawyer creates Te Reo learning resource for schools

24 July 2018

Creating songs in Te Reo for her school teacher husband to use in the classroom has put an Auckland lawyer’s side project in demand throughout the country.

Roimata Smail whose specialties include Māori legal issues, launched a teaching resource which includes 12 Waiata or songs in September last year.

The online resource is called Wai Ako and about 2000 students throughout New Zealand are now being taught these songs.

Wai is short for Waiata and Ako means learning.

“I come from a family of teachers. My husband was keen to include more Māori in his primary school classes and I’d been learning Te Reo for song time. I also have a passion for music and things progressed from there,” she says.

Some of the songs include a sprinkle of English words but mostly they’re in Te Reo and with 12 songs launched already, another six are nearing completion and those recordings will be released.

“They’re all very basic Waiata and go through the Te Reo Māori curriculum at a primary school level. Basic phrases and essentially getting a young person started with the language,” she says.

Ms Smail says the focus was to make them fun to learn, and they’re all performed on ukulele.

“But while they seem that way to the children, teachers are also finding it fun. They’re a powerful tool because teachers with little Te Reo knowledge are able to learn at the same time as the class they’re teaching with the sing along videos,” she says.

Roimata Smail says she has no plans to give up her day time job as a lawyer.

“I love being a lawyer but it can be quite intense so creating this project, while very consuming is relaxing as it helps me switch off law when I’m working on Wai Ako,” she says.

You can access an interview with Roimata Smail that featured on RNZ’s Nine to Noon.

Last updated on the 25th July 2018