Whāia e koe te iti kahurangi; ki te tuohu koe, me maunga teitei.
October 1 2018 by Cory Ratahi
Whāia e koe te iti kahurangi; ki te tuohu koe, me maunga teitei. Māori language week has been and gone, but there is another Māori initiative that continues until the end of the month: Māhuru Māori, a Māori language challenge for fluent Māori language speakers to only speak te reo Māori for the entire month.
Māori culture is a big part of New Zealand’s identity and my personal hope is that all New Zealanders and non-New Zealanders alike, would want to experience a piece of it. In multi-national Queenstown it may seem hard to find that unique Māori experience, but the opportunities are there. The Kiwi Haka performance group can be found performing at local events. SIT offer year-long Māori language courses from absolute beginner to full immersion. Southern REAP offer shorter, bite-sized Māori courses. The schools and pre-schools in the region have fantastic Māori kapa haka (action song groups) supported by teachers and parents who are knowledgeable in tikanga (Māori language and customs). There are local community groups for other Māori activities, including waka ama (outrigger canoeing) and mau rakau (Māori weaponry). There are also local groups who meet to learn te reo Māori or to sing waiata (Māori songs).
During my time as a kaiawhina (teacher’s aide) for the local reo courses delivered through SIT and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, I have been inspired by the non-Māori and non-New Zealanders who have completed our courses. The common stories from tauira (students) is that they were encouraged to learn te reo at their workplaces; by their children, who return home from school reciting Māori phrases or songs; or by their own personal interest in knowing more about Māori culture.
My story is also common among Māori. It is a story of procrastination. In these modern times we make time for everyone else, but rarely for ourselves. I had convinced myself that I had other more important priorities in my life. A few years ago, I watched an interview with NZ actress Jennifer Ward Lealand, where she and the interviewer spoke only Māori. That was the inspiration I needed to put the learning of my language higher than my other priorities.
So for those who want to take that first step in learning the Māori language, I offer you this:
Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei.
Pursue your most treasured aspirations, if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.
Before I sign off, it is right to acknowledge those in the community who promote Māori language and culture. Nō reira, ngā mihi nui ki ngā tangata katoa i roto i tēnei rohe, e tautoko ana i te kaupapa Māori. And a final acknowledgement to my good friend and mentor, Jeromy Van Riel, e te rangatira, tēnā rawa atu koe.
QLDC Employee and Māori Language enthusiast