Catholic principal’s big plans to embrace more Te Reo Māori

Catholic school principal

New Plymouth Catholic school principal Barb Costelloe has big plans to introduce more Te Reo Māori into the school.

Costelloe (pictured) has been acting principal of Sacred Heart Girls’ College since the start of the year. She has now been appointed to the role.

At the top of her list of long-term goals is integrating more Māori language into the curriculum.

“We haven’t got very many fluent speakers and I want everyone who identifies as Māori to feel really proud, and for all of us who are Tangata Tiriti (non-Māori) to feel like we are on that waka too.”

Costelloe has succeeded former principal Paula Wells who has moved on to lead Wellington’s Samuel Marsden Collegiate School.

Born in Sweden, Costelloe grew up in South Africa. Her parents were anti-apartheid protestors.

She moved to New Zealand when she was 18 and has been a secondary teacher for more than 30 years.

Her teaching posts have seen her move between Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Singapore.

Costelloe’s longest role has been at Sacred Heart where she started as head of maths 10 years ago.

She says her favourite part of the job is that she is constantly learning. After noticing the importance of having a second language, she decided to begin learning Te Reo in 2018.

Now she is nearly fluent and wants to be a role model for her students.

“We have had compulsory Te Reo Māori for years seven, eight and nine – and that remains, but every workplace is recognising the importance of it, so we do need to equip our students to leave confident.”

Sacred Heart is already offering independent classes for students who want to immerse themselves in the language during their study classes.

Another long-term goal of Costelloe’s is to continue honouring the charism, or gift, of the Mission sisters who founded the school.

“It’s about being really future-focused but resting solidly on our traditions.

“I am blessed to be supported by the Sisters of our lady of the Missions, the Catholic Parish of Ngāmotu and the Diocese of Palmerston North as well as our local Iwi and Parihaka whānau whānui.”


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