Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori Special: A Journey of Whānau Commitment to Te Reo Māori

Published date : Thu, 14 September 2023 03:00 pm

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori Special: A Journey of Whānau Commitment to Te Reo Māori

At the heart of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, are the dynamic teachings of a range of specialised Te Reo Māori programmes: Te Pōkaitahi Reo. There you will find two remarkable individuals, Moerangi Black and Matetu Herewini, who are not just tutors of Te Reo Māori; they are living embodiments of Te Reo Māori in everyday life. As life partners and lecturers of Te Pōkaitahi Reo, together their journey in nurturing Te Reo Māori stands as an inspiring testament for all.

For Matetu, the decision to embrace and teach Te Reo Māori to their tamariki was a conscious one. His approach commenced with simple rituals, such as incorporating karakia (prayers) every night and gradually weaving pūrākau (stories) and waiata (songs) into their bedtime routine. "That planted the seed," he reflected. They also cultivated an environment where Te Reo Māori was utilised in all facets of daily life, from playtime to daily routines.

Matetu's advice to whānau embarking on their Te Reo Māori journey is to make a deliberate commitment to learn and speak the language, nurturing an unwavering hunger for knowledge. He suggests exploring various resources including courses, YouTube tutorials and podcasts. "There are many strategies and rauemi (resources) available to whānau," he remarked.

For Moerangi, Te Reo Māori has been an integral part of her life since her childhood. She grew up in an immersive environment that fostered her profound connection to the language. "Te Reo Māori was the only language spoken in our home," she recalled, signifying the importance of complete immersion.

Moerangi's upbringing not only encouraged speaking Te Reo Māori but also embodied Māori customs, such as serving kaputi (hot drink) to manuhiri (guests) when they arrived – customs and values that Moerangi and Matetu continue to pass down to their own daughters. "I loved growing up with parents who valued Te Reo Māori so it was a given that we carry the same approach with our own tamāhine (daughters)".

Her advice to whānau starting their Te Reo Māori journey is clear: "Nāku te reo, nāu te reo, nā tātau te reo." It is everyone's language. "Have fun with it and let this be a journey the whole whānau can enjoy." Moerangi also highlights the accessibility of Te Reo Māori through kohanga reo (early language learning), kura kaupapa (Māori-language schools), whare kura (secondary schools with a Māori focus), and whare wānanga, as well as online resources and Māori radio stations.

When asked about what makes Te Pōkaitahi Reo a unique programme, Moerangi points out, "Kaiako (teachers) live and breathe Te Reo Māori within their whānau (families), hapū (sub-tribes), Iwi (tribes), and hāpori (communities). Kaiako who are passionate about Te Reo Māori and firmly believe that it is guided by wairua Māori (Māori spirituality), whakaaro Māori (Māori thinking) and kaupapa Māori (Māori principles), create a unique space for learning."

In this distinctive learning space, both novice and experienced learners are valued, fostering a relationship where the tuakana (elder sibling/mentor) learns from the teina (younger sibling/learner) and vice versa. This exemplifies the whakatauki (proverb) that Moerangi quotes: "Mā te tuakana te teina e ako, mā te teina anō te tuakana e ako" – The older will learn from the younger, and the younger will learn from the older.

Their dedication to Te Reo Māori has opened doors for both Matetu and Moerangi. Moerangi proudly embraces her role as a wahine Māori and a descendant of the Mataatua waka, crediting Te Reo Māori with creating numerous opportunities in her life. Beyond the knowledge that Te Reo brings, it has, most importantly, instilled a deep sense of pride in her daughters, who confidently speak Te Reo Māori.

Matetu echoes these sentiments, emphasising the importance of Te Reo Māori paired with tikanga Māori (Māori customs) and kaupapa Māori. He views Te Reo Māori not merely as a language but as a source of empowerment for his tamāhine and a means of preserving Māori identity.

As Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori shines a spotlight on the richness of Te Reo and culture, the journey of Moerangi and Matetu serves as an inspiring reminder that Te Reo Māori is not confined to a week but is a lifelong commitment.

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