How the “Reo Ora” Course Can Help You Learn Te Reo Māori Faster and More Effectively

Learning a new language in the digital age should be quick and easy. However, it is not always like this. Traditional language learning which usually takes place in the classroom can take years before the learner experiences any communicative competence. This approach is consuming and frustrating. So, many learners have turned to online applications and computer-assisted learning. With many online Māori courses and applications available on the market, learners can easily be fooled into a “magic method” which on closer inspection is nothing more than just a traditional approach moved online. Same sentence patterns, same content, same old stuff dressed up to look new. This is dangerous because it can really demoralize leaners and put you off for good.

The Solution

My team and I have spent over 20 years developing a language learning system for Te Reo Māori. It has become my life’s work and passion. In fact, this has consumed me so much that I have a PhD. in it. Realizing that teaching Te Reo Māori in universities in New Zealand and overseas was not having the impact that I wanted, I developed a unique language learning app called Reo Ora – Grow (Your) Language.

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the whole notion of learning and education has become severely impacted. Students must learn Online as opposed to physically attending classes in case they may expose themselves to the virus. Schools and universities are struggling with this new regime of online learning; however, the reality is, online learning has now the new way of learning. Whether we like it or not, it is now the norm normal.

There are many pathways to learning a language and I am not advocating that Reo Ora is the only solution to learning a language. People have the option of physically attending night classes and despite the pandemic, enrolments at universities and wānanga continue to be the preferred option for many. However, the technology and platforms that are currently being utilized are either, low-tech or no tech, and many institutions are merely trying to meet their EFT (Effective Full Time Students) targets and get students on their courses so they can receive government funding. If they do not meet these targets their funding is reduced or even cut. As they say in the tertiary sector – “it’s all about bums on seats”.

Dr Rapata Wiri

The other issue facing the tertiary sector is that once you have enrolled on their course, you must pass the course, or the institution does not receive their EFT funding. With our program, there is no pressure on the person to enrol in our course, because we are not funded by, or reliant upon government funding to keep our program running. The other issue is that you do not have to pass our course for us to receive funding. We ensure that our students are well taught, well supported and improve their language proficiency levels. Reo Ora is second to none. We have a solution that works, and it is not about EFT funding, it is about the student and their learning journey. We are 100 percent client-focused.

Here are six reasons why Reo Ora will work for you.

  1. We identify your motivation (extrinsic or intrinsic) and we build on it, so it drives you on to succeed.

We know that one of the most important factors in foreign language learning (L2) is motivation. According to Dornyei (1994)[1] there are two main types of motivation (there are also subgroups in each main group). The first motivation type is known as intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a motivation to learn that comes from an internal force such as interest in language learning or the desire for further personal development in general. It compares with extrinsic motivation, which is motivation from external pressures such as the need to speak Māori for work or because a parent has sent a learner to a class.

Reo Ora recognizes that some learners join a class because of extrinsic motivation. We try to make our language modules enjoyable and rewarding. We encourage you through simple questionnaires about aspects of class that you find useful. We design our language tasks around cross-cultural exchanges with both native and non-native speakers of Māori. So that we build on your motivation and move you toward both, intrinsic motivation – love of the target culture and language and extrinsic motivation – upskilling you to such a high level that you can get a job as a Māori language teacher.

[1] Motivation and Motivating in the Foreign Language Classroom Author(s): Zoltan Dornyei Source: The Modern Language Journal, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 273-284 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations Stable URL: Accessed: 27/05/2020.

  1. Provide comprehensible content for language learners

Language is not just “soaked up.” If the target language is at a level that is too high, then there is not going to be any understanding. It will be a waste of time and effort. The language will just be sounds to the learner going in from one ear and going out the other. Krashen (1981)[2] identified that the target language must be at an appropriate level for the learner. Not too hard or not too easy so there is no new learning. Reo Ora quickly adjusts to your acquisition speed by firstly offering live webinars with a language teacher and by having original content that is made specifically for your level.

[2] Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning Author(s): Krashen, Stephen D Source: University of Southern California URL: Accessed:  27/05/2020

  1. Lessons are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. 

Everyone is different. We are all unique. Many traditional approaches to language teaching force learners into boxes. We blindly follow the same program, at the same time, say the same thing over and over. Reo Ora recognizes your differences. We acknowledge tribal differences and cultural differences and we can adjust our language content accordingly. For example, for a Māori student who may come from the East Coast of Aotearoa, they will recite a tribal saying which identifies their tribal landmarks:

Ko Hikurangi te maunga

Ko Waiapu te awa

Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi


Hikurangi is the mountain

Waiapu is the river

Ngāti Porou are the tribe


This is a well-known pepeha from the East Coast of New Zealand. Now, we are not going to teach you this if you are from Tonga or Japan or from Taranaki. We adjust our content and our teaching style according to your needs and your learning preferences. Each tribe has their own distinct sayings and their own dialect, which we encourage students to learn. I am often asked, what dialect do you teach? My answer to this is, I teach all dialects and acknowledge all tribes and cultures around the world. If a person, who is not Māori, wants to recite a pepeha, similar to the one above, I encourage them to re-connect with the local area where they primarily affiliate to, and lean the name of the local mountain, river or lake or ocean of that particular area. Some non-Māori feel uncomfortable reciting the name of a tribe because they do not descend from that tribe. However, if the student acknowledges a particular tribe who is the “mana whenua” (paramount authority) of that area then this is a sign of great respect to the Māori people of that area, whether or not you affiliate to that tribe.

While I was teaching at the University of Hawaii, I taught students from the different islands of Hawaii, from the USA, Japan, and other parts of the world. Most of these students had never even visited Aotearoa but were fascinated with the Māori notion of identity. Some students would recite their local mountain and river or sea. For example:


Ko Hale-a-ka-lā te maunga

Ko Maui te motu

Ko Kalani-a-pu’u te tangata

Ko Hawai’i te iwi


The mountain is Hale-a-ka-lā

The island is Maui

The chief is Kalani-a-pu’u

The people are Hawai’i


Reo Ora incorporates all three learning styles auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. There are lots of listening and speaking exercises. Visual aids such as animation so you can understand the context. Our language coaches can give tips on how to connect language vocabulary with body action (TPR).

  1. We incorporate both individual and group cooperative learning strategies

All too often, lecture-style teaching excludes the learner from the learning process. Reo Ora does the opposite. It is learner centric – we focus on the learner and your needs. We do this in our Webinars.  Our language coaches are assessing and monitoring you as you participate individually and in your group. Working in small groups is especially beneficial to you because you will have authentic reasons to communicate and practice using new vocabulary and sentence structures. Learners benefit from cooperative learning structures by performing language tasks in your group.

  1. Each lesson has clear learning objectives

Learners need to have an objective for every lesson that they can understand. At the end of the lesson, learners should ask themselves if the objective was met. Clear objectives shape the teaching and the learning of the lesson. In each of Reo Ora’s modules, clear goals are determined and agreed. These goals are more than just achieving language goals but strongly relates to the leaner’s sense of well-being and belief system. It is no coincidence that the best language programs of Māori strongly raise learner’s self-esteem and pride.

To explain further, we offer two beginner level classes. Māori 101, which is designed for absolute beginners and Māori 102 which is designed for advanced beginners. We try not to mix 101 and 102 students together as this can have a detrimental learning effect on the students. Moreover, students who have no prior knowledge of the language are sometimes intimated by students who are more advanced than themselves. Likewise, those who are more knowledgeable in the language, can sometimes become frustrated at those who have no knowledge at all the language.

Each class, Māori 101, and Māori 102 has noticeably clear and precise learning objectives which focus on particular words and sentence patterns. As the learner progresses through each class, the lessons become more advanced and build upon and reinforce language patterns learnt in previous lessons.

Each module of the program is designed in a way that the learner must grasp the language pattern, and vocabulary taught, before moving on to the next module. We have vocabulary quizzes, assessments, listening, speaking, and writing exercise in each module to ensure that the learner has grasped the objective of that module before moving on to the next module.

We encourage a warm, friendly learning environment, social interaction, group activities online, using our Zoom technology. The teacher is engaging and encourages learners to overcome shyness is saying words and phrases in Māori. Linguists argue that the most effective way of learning a language is by “repetition of sentence structure”. For example: “The dog is running, the cat is running, the boy is running, the girl is running …”. By repeating this verbal sentence pattern with different subjects (i.e. cat, dog, boy, girl …) the learner can retain a sentence pattern.

  1. First – Learn key functional vocabulary and sentence patterns.

Not all words of a language are equal.

Some occur much more frequently than others (high frequency vocabulary). Therefore, it proves beneficial if you focus your attention on the more frequently occurring words first.

Reo Ora takes the hassle out of learning by providing top vocabulary items and sentences for you. When you go through our language application you will notice how quickly your Māori will improve. We then invite you to practice by using the vocabulary drills and the weekly online webinar.

I have given you six reasons why Reo Ora will work for you. I am looking forward to meeting you and seeing you on your language journey. I will be you partner, your guide, your coach and your kaiako as we embark on this journey together.

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori

The language is the life-essence of Māori prestige[3]

[3] This is a whakatauākī or proverb which is associated with a famous Māori leader, Sir James Henare.

Find out more about Reo Ora course, please get in touch.