Te Ataarangi was first established in 1980 as a community movement that ran classes and intensive Māori language courses outside of formal education.
“Our organisation's name, Te Ataarangi ki Te Kāhui Maunga Charitable Trust, references the mana whenua o Ruahine ranges, Ruapehu and Rua-Taranaki. We run community reo classes and also train people to teach using our immersion approach,” said Ruakere Hond, Mātanga Reo.
In early 2020, the organisation had a contract with the Ministry of Education (MoE). “We were able to employ 15 kaiako to work with teachers and staff at schools. We also had four admin staff to help maintain the consistency of the programme," Ruakere said.
“We were finalising our proposal in March of 2020 for a new contract in September, when COVID-19 hit, and the MoE decision was delayed. We calculated that we would be able to continue until early December but a new contract wasn't confirmed until April 2021. It was a huge pressure on us.”
A grant of $107k from Toi Foundation enabled the organisation to keep running.
“It is impossible to describe the relief we had on hearing about the grant. The Department of Internal Affairs also gave support for wage costs and we survived right to the wire. Without Toi Foundation funds, we would definitely have had to close, lose all our staff and facilities and would not be in a position to pick up the two year contract with the Ministry of Education.”
“We can continue to provide training and promote the use of te reo in Taranaki. Our programme delivery is now greatly extended. The new contract allowed for us to set up a recording studio where we make video recorded sessions for students that are valuable for a range of contexts," Ruakere said.
"We are in a position to consider the next contract, enrolling 1000 students per year, and our organisation now employs 34 people. It has helped us give support to the health sector. Discussions with iwi may lead to providing iwi-based community classes."