“Me whakapūawai te ihi me te mana o ngā tamariki; hei ngā Rangatira mō āpōpō”

“Let us grow our tamariki to be superheroes; tomorrow’s leaders”

This is the mission guiding Te Puna Reo o Te Ahi Kaikōura a Tama ki te Rangi, a new puna reo – a kaupapa Māori early learning Centre. Located on the grounds of Hāpuku School it has recently opened its doors to all whānau in Kaikōura, providing an inclusive te reo Māori learning space for all tamariki in the area. 

The first of its kind within the Kaikōura takiwā, the puna reo started as a bilingual whānau playgroup growing into a weekly, two-day immersion space. It then became clear to whānau involved, that they needed to take the next big step, and provide a purpose-built puna reo that would be open to everyone who wanted to attend. 

Kahurangi Stone (right) embracing whānau at the puna reo opening.

Kahurangi Stone (Ngāti Maru, Waikato), was part of the bilingual whānau playgroup and has been a core part of the team who brought the puno reo to life. She and her husband, Wiremu have been raising their three babies at home speaking te reo Māori, however, beyond their whare they found there was no dedicated community space for their tamariki to speak te reo Māori. They took the idea and began to make plans to bring this to life with the support of the whānau group, kaumātua, the local school and the wider community. 

I’m all about revitalising te reo Māori and this business that we started, it’s vision is to create and promote safe spaces to learn, use and normalise te reo Maorisays Kahurangi. 

Community inclusivity is what makes this puna reo extra special, and the centre’s doors are open to all whānau, both Māori and non-Māori, to learn together, and collectively create a better future for the community, normalising the use of te reo Māori. 

"I'm all about revitalising te reo Māori and this business that we started, it's vision is to create and promote safe spaces to learn, use and normalise te reo Maori” says Kahurangi.

Patsy O’Connor (Kaiako Matua/Head teacher) strongly believes that the puna reo will have a positive impact on the Kaikōura community. “She [Kahurangi] had such a vision, I couldn’t step past it and I’ve been on this journey with her ever since, bringing te reo Māori to the people that need it, that deserve it” says Patsy.  

Patsy joined the team to help develop the core learning values – Tuakiritanga/Identity), Ako/Learning, and Whakamana/Empowerment, and will oversee the day-to-day running of the centre . She was hands-on with the fit-out of the whare, helping to creating an interactive, holistic learning space for tamariki.  

The puna reo has nods to significant places in the takiwā.

Serving the community sits at the heart of Te Puna Reo o Te Ahi Kaikoura a Tama ki te Rangi. Local history and place names within the takiwā of Kaikōura are recognisable features of the whare, and the individual rooms in the puna reo have been named after significant places for manawhenua. 

What began as an idea and plans on paper is now a reality for Kahurangi, Patsy and whānau in Kaikōura. Everyone is excited to see what comes out of this new puna reo, as a starting point and a beacon of light and hope for all whānau in Kaikōura learn, use and normalise te reo Māori within the home and in the community.