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Reo Rua and Rumaki learning at Central Normal School. Te Kura Tuatahi o Papaioea

& Naming of
Te Arawaru

Central Normal School has been operating and providing bilingual learning in Māori since 1995. 

Wiremu Te Aweawe, a Rangitāne kaumātua, gifted the name ‘Te Arawaru’ to Central Normal in 1999. Te Arawaru is named after a peak in the Tararua Ranges called Te Arawaru. Te Arawaru is also a name, that to Māori, symbolises a formation of eight - representing the eight pointed star called ‘Whetu Marama’ - the star in heaven and light of the world.

Te Arawaru peak is a within close proximity to the township of Tokomaru in the Manawatū area. It is a significant landmark to the Rangitāne people, who are tāngata whenua of Palmerston North and outlying areas in the Manawatū district. 

In days of old, the Rangitāne iwi lived on both sides of the mountain range in Wairarapa and Manawatū. At important times when Rangitāne needed to meet because of an urgent matter, a group of the tribes fastest warriors would speed up to Te Arawaru and light huge fires.  A bright blaze could then be seen from either side of the mountain. With smoke signals alerting all of Rangitāne that there was to be an urgent meeting.

Te Arawaru Kaupapa Whakahaere

The purpose of Te Arawaru is to provide a high standard of learning and opportunities to foster the growth and development of children in Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga in a supportive te ao Māori environment. 

This will be achieved by:

  • Appropriate curriculum development
  • The encouragement and involvement of whānau in the learning of tamariki 
  • Respecting the cultural diversity within the whānau 

The importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a founding document of Aotearoa/New Zealand is acknowledged.

Te Arawaru Whakatauki

Mā te tuakana Ka tōtika te teina

It is through the older sibling that the younger sibling learns to do the right things the right way

Mā te teina Ka tōtika to tuakana

And it is through the  younger sibling that the older sibling learns to be tolerant

Learning and
Teaching in
Te Arawaru

In 2018, a significant review was undertaken of the provision of learning and teaching in Te Arawaru and what could be amended and/or introduced to strengthen the delivery and content of Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga. 

Visits to two other schools who provide bilingual and immersion learning supported our review, as did research from an article by S. May, R. Hill and S. Tiakiwai titled Bilingual Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Whānau voice was also very important in shaping and informing the review. A whānau hui was held to share and hear from the whānau about their thinking. Whānau overwhelmingly endorsed the review and it’s changes.

The outcome of the review, particularly in relation to the research and whānau voice, led to an increased focus and provision of Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga and curriculum learning from one curriculum document.

All learning and teaching from Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Akomanga 13
Year 0/1

Reo Rua
Level 2: 51% - 80% instruction in Te Reo Māori

Akomanga 14
Year 1/2

Reo Rua
Level 2: 51% - 80% instruction in Te Reo Māori

The Whare
Year 3/4

Level 1: 81% - 100% instruction in Te Reo Māori

Akomanga 15
Year 5/6

Level 1: 81% - 100% instruction in Te Reo Māori

Akomanga 16
Year 5/6

Level 1: 81% - 100% instruction in Te Reo Māori


All classes plan teaching and learning programmes from the national curriculum document Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Assessment information is stored and tracked in the online tool Te Waharoa. 

Each class has their own classroom teacher and Te Arawaru is also supported by a Kaiarahi Reo, who provides learning support intervention and classroom release time. Te Arawaru and Kura Auraki are both supported by a full time teacher, who provides Te Reo and Tikanga instruction and Kapa Haka. 

Reo Rua programmes:

  • Māori will form the primary language of instruction, with English to support understanding
  • Reading and Writing will be taught in Māori. Programmes will focus on implementing phonological awareness in Māori.
  • Pāngarau (mathematics) will be taught in Māori. 
  • Theme and Play Based Learning will primarily be in Māori, with English to support understanding. 
  • Daily Karakia and Waiata

Rumaki programmes:

  • Māori will form the primary language of instruction. 
  • Reading and Writing will primarily be in Māori
  • Pāngarau will be in Māori
  • Theme based learning will be in Māori
  • Daily Karakia and Waiata

Programmes will reflect and integrate a Māori world viewpoint, as outlined in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Research Overview of Bilingual Learning

What does the research say? Some key points that informed our thinking:

  • “In immersion education, the language least likely to be spoken in the wider society (Māori), is used as the main language of school.”
  • “The research clearly shows that the most effective bilingual schools are those with the highest level of immersion (ie, Level 1 programmes, where a lot of teaching is in Māori). However, the research also shows that partial immersion schools can also be effective, as long as at least 50% of the teaching is in Māori (ie, Level 2 programmes).”
    • This is why we moved to the two levels of immersion at our school - Reo Rua for our junior classes and Rumaki for our middle/senior classes. 
  • “Bilingual education is most effective when families, the school and the wider community see it as good for students to learn a second language and to become fluent in two languages. This is called an ‘additive’ approach, because students are ‘adding’ a second language, rather than replacing one language with another.” 
  • “The research also highlights that becoming biliterate is the key to academic success. Students who are biliterate are more likely to succeed academically and also outperform students in English-medium schools.” 
    • Central Normal School and our whānau place great emphasis and pride on the provision of Te Reo Māori me ona tikanga
  • “It takes longer to learn an academic subject when it is being taught in your second language, and the research shows students need to stay in the bilingual programme for at least six years to know enough to be able to cope academically. That is, there is a ‘second language learning delay’, which means students are below their grade level for a subject when they start learning in their second language (Māori) but then they start to catch up.”
  • “This means that at the primary school level, a student needs to be in Māori-medium education (eg, kura or bilingual unit) for at least six and preferably eight years, and they need to be ‘taught Māori’ as well as being ‘taught in’ Māori.”
    • This informed our reporting to whānau, where a child in Te Arawaru will receive a report about their learning in relation to time in kura and time in immersion learning. 
    • We also know that it will take our school (if a child begins in Te Arawaru at age 5, 2019) until 2024, for their achievement to be comparative between time in kura and time in immersion.

Te Arawaru Whānau

The whānau plays an important role in the learning and success of our tamariki.


  • Whānau are encouraged to become involved and contribute, as able, to the Te Arawaru team, their child’s classroom programme and school activities. 
  • Whānau Hui will be held once a term to share with whānau the learning and teaching in Te Arawaru, to receive feedback and ideas from whānau and to foster whānaungatanga.

Help is always appreciated in the tea, especially for:

  • Class Haerenga and activities
  • Transport
  • Kapa Haka
  • Uniforms