Kohanga Kids


With Maori education, television and radio firmly established in New Zealand it’s hard to believe that just twenty years ago Maori feared the language would be lost forever.

In 1982 a kohanga reo – Maori language nest – was opened at Pukeatua Marae in Wainuiomata – it was the first of it’s kind, a grassroot initiative that put toddlers to the forefront of the push to save the language. Barely out of nappies, these children and thousands that followed throughout the country, were Maoridom’s hope for the future.

In Documentary New Zealand’s ‘Kohanga Kids’ we meet seven of the originals – kohanga kids that were signed up by parents who were non-speakers of te reo, parents who were told that speaking Maori could diminish future opportunities for their children.

Still, they chose to commit to themselves and their children – it was a choice that changed their lives.

How did kohanga reo effect these children as they grew into adults?  Did it benefit their lives as adults or would their lives have been the same regardless?

An urban born professional, Hariata Paki set up her own kohanga reo in suburban Hamilton. Her third son, Te Rurehe was the kohanga baby. Through videotaped footage we are given a unique glimpse at his preschool routine – prayer, storytelling, songs and kapa haka.

We follow seven inspiring individuals. Young adults who as toddlers were part of social experiment that not only changed their lives but the lives of their whanau, and the fabric of our society.



Promotional Trailer

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Production Details

Producer: Wendyl Nissen

Exec producer: Irene Gardiner

Network exec: Jude Callen

Director: Debra Rewiti

Sub Titles: Tiraroa Reweti

Audio Post: Terry Murphy

Online Editor: Hamish Hill

Offline Editor: Glen Molesworth

Production manager: Kate Creswell

Production coordinator: Bronwyn Bezuidenhout

Camera: Trudy Lewis, Maringi Houkamau, Paul Richards, Norton Issacs

Sound: Hera Ngata-Gibson, Phil Cusabs, Craig O’Reilly, Craig Perry

Narrator: Lawrence Wharerau

Financial controller: Glenda Paterson

Production accountant: Liz Goddard

Funded by: New Zealand on Air and TVNZ