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Ka pai . . . North Otago people are embracing te reo Maori by taking up a year-long community language course. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A small class in Oamaru is enthusiastic about keeping te reo Maori active in North Otago.

The class, which started about two weeks ago, was created to help people gain skill and knowledge in the language.

About 40 students from the community have been participating in the class.

The main focus is to help people build language and conversational skills by learning Maori vocabulary and sentence structures in a way that becomes second nature in everyday language.

The class is led by kaiako Ropata Paora and assisted by Sophia Leon de la Barra.

Miss de la Barra, originally of Australia, came up with the idea of running a year-long class after getting feedback at a hui last year.

“When we held a hui last year at Te Whare Koa about running a language class, I was overwhelmed by the turnout.

“There were over 60 people in the whare asking about how to enrol and get a class up and running in Oamaru. It was so inspiring, seeing such a wide range of community members keen and passionate about learning our reo.”

Miss de la Barra also ran a series of te reo classes in North Otago last year.

Learning te reo was important for Miss de la Barra, as it brought her closer to New Zealand and made her feel more at home.

“As a New Zealand transplant, the opportunity to learn te reo with Te Wananga o Aotearoa was life-changing,” she said.

“It really helped me to connect with the land and the culture, and to feel at home here in Aotearoa.”

Mr Paora was excited about teaching the class.

“I am really looking forward to engaging with the whanau in Oamaru, and developing some really robust connections and a sustainable future for te reo there and in surrounding communities moving into the future,” he said.

People who want to learn more about the class can contact Miss de la Barra on uno.mundo@gmail.com.