Sunday, 20 July 2014

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori 2014

And it begins! Looking forward to the influx of reo Māori on the airwaves, through tweets, blog posts and facebook posts.

Here is a small insight into the many take (topic, concern) and raruraru (issues) around why it's important - thanks to NZTalkback Radio and Tamati Coffey and Hinemoana Baker. 

My wish for NZ: to be a bi-lingual country where her citizens can feel comfortable switching easily between reo Māori and reo Pākehā in conversation, signage, newspapers and other forms of media.

What's yours?

Taku haerenga akoranga - My learning journey

Most of you have read of my mighty haka on the dinghi... but what you might not know is that I've been a part of a Kapa Haka roopu (Maori Culture Group) since I was five years old. 

Unfortunately when I was growing up I wasn't taught much in the way of te reo Māori, or tikanga Māori... much of what I learnt I still feel is common knowledge (ie. don't wear hats inside, take shoes off when you go inside, never EVER sit on a table - especially if it will be used for kai, don't yell at the beach, never put your hairbrush or hair accessories on the table, no-one is allowed to touch your taonga unless you have given permission, you can't buy a pounamu for yourself - it has to be given to you... etc). I was taught many of these things as I was growing up - but to me it just seems like everyone knows the reasons behind it... which all goes back to tapu.

What I was taught while growing up instead, was tikanga of the Cherokee and a lot of that equates to the tikanga of Māori - in particular the importance of the whenua (land and placenta), of the Earth Mother (Papatuanuku), how the atua could give or take as they pleased and how important it was to give thanks before partaking of kai - especially that of which you have killed yourself. I learnt a lot of the sacred traditions: rain dances, how to create a good smudge stick, the importance of knowing who you are and where you come from, and of course a resounding awareness that some people may not ever understand you or your people. 

In recent years I have been making these positive connections more and more because for a long time I was angry that I wasn't brought up as Maori. I was... but I wasn't. Does that make sense?

At the end of the day though... I am resoundingly grateful to my Mum for teaching me these practices of the Cherokee, she being a mana wahine, tohunga etc in her own right and feels a close connection with the earth and all things around her. If you ever get the chance to meet her... you'll know what I mean. 

What still frustrates me... though I am learning to accept it... is that she will probably never get her pronunciation of reo Māori correct. And this comes back to the incarceration of Reo Māori and the fact that it has only been an 'Official' language of Aotearoa/New Zealand since 1987. Because of this - many in Aotearoa have this innate pathological feeling that they do not want anything to do with it - for many many reasons.. of which right now is not the time nor place to go into it. But regardless - this is why Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is so important. 

I remember a few of my kaiako (teachers) throughout my reo Māori learning journey - at five and upwards til I was 13 - I was taught by mainly those from our rohe (area) in which I grew up. I learnt that dialect quickly through waiata-a-ringa (action song), waiata tira (choral, sung without actions), waiata poi (sung with poi) and through haka. 

At 12, I, with my roopu (group) performed at Turangawaewae marae in front of Te Ariki Dame Te Atairaangikahu herself... our tino ataahua, our taonga...Our Māori Queen. To this day, as many others do too, I still feel her loss. 

At high school (age 13) I was taught still in the rohe of Ngāti Hauā/Piako/Waikato by a kaiako from the East coast. I thought it was awesome learning through the rākau (sticks, blocks) to remind myself how to do my mihimihi and pepeha... 

What wasn't awesome was that a girl in my class didn't think it acceptable for a 'white girl' to be learning reo Māori, much less to be in the school Kapa Haka roopu... That experience is one that stopped me from continuing with te reo and my beloved roopu for the rest of my high schooling career. I regret not standing up to her, and wish I had instead pushed her away from me in the corridor and with my chin up, walk out and keep going to my reo Māori class and try outs for Kapa Haka. Seeing her in town still gives me chills, but now I think I scare her... perhaps like I did back then. Because she didn't know me and who I was - nor did she know that saying, "You're too white to do Kapa Haka" would continue to stop me from doing things Māori for a very long time.. 

Having a kaiako from the East coast made it slightly difficult to my ears later on when I re-started my learning journey as a university student because I had originally learnt the word for Pōwhiri with the WH which we used at primary and intermediate. But then with the kaiako from the coast at High school we used it... without the WH. And then when I went to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (Highly recommend it too btw)... I was taught by a series of kaiako who all had different dialects... and once I learnt why I couldn't quite understand people when they said pōhiri it all started to make sense. Dialectical differences is what helps make Te Reo Māori rich and beautiful - as well as the fact that it is poetic and rich with descriptive language and of course, love.

Since starting at TWOA I have learnt SO much. It's taken a while, with moving from Hamilton to Auckland, and then down here to Rotorua... but finally, last year - I completed my Diploma in Te Ara Reo Māori. I was meant to continue this year with Te Au Pikitanga... a fully immersed course, but it didn't seem to get underway. I will continue that instead next year. As well as Kura Reo (learning te reo Maori during the school holidays).  

The problem with the learning journey overall that I have found, is that it is increasingly difficult to keep the reo fresh and used in my mind and on my tounge... if I don't actually speak everyday with someone in te reo Māori. 

That is why my wish is for those living in Aotearoa/New Zealand to have Reo Māori be more fluent and USED in everyday life. To have it more visual through signage on roads has been a great start, but it isn't everywhere. Like Tamati Coffey said in his Newstalk panel earlier this morning (link above) - it is great that Taupō now has a macron (tohu tō or pōtae/hat) on the O... However - for those who don't know that it needs one... it becomes difficult for correct pronunciation... 

A bit of phonetics for you:

A - as in: cup, arm, are
E - as in: egg, steer
I - as in: big, see, Rio (it sounds like E does in English basically - but also like the i in big)
O - as in: or
U - as in: moon

Now when a macron or tohu tō is used on top of a vowel sound - it means that that vowel is doubled or elongated. For example: Taupō

To say 'Taupō' - the blended vowel sounds of 'au' and the blended consonant and vowel sound of 'po':

au - as in: toe
pō - as in: paw

So - say Taupō - (toe/paw) - BUT - remember that the ō has a macron - which means that the O is elongated... so toe/paaww

Want to know how to add macrons while typing? Click this link.

If you enjoyed learning about reo Māori... the basics can be found through many of the institutions in NZ (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Te Wānanga o Awanui-a-Rangi, Te Wānanga o Raukawa), and through Auckland University, Waikato University, Victoria University etc. 

Personally I enjoyed learning through the Wānanga o Aotearoa because I learnt at my own pace... very quick in that first year and more steadily and then faster as the next years continued... and because they have AMAZING resources. When I say amazing... I truly mean it. Also - having the opportunity to learn at night time while doing my degree, and last year while teaching was immensely helpful. I learn better at night too... Should really give myself the nickname of Whaea Ruru (Morepork) haha. I'm punny as... Miss L.. Miss Owl... haha. 

More info here:

Learn Te Reo Māori Online:
Te Kupu o te Wiki - Word of the Week - In partnership with Te Taurawhiri and Radio NZ - Definitely check this one out!
Kupu o te Ra - Word of the Day - Sign up to register for an emailed kupu hou each day!
Toku Reo - Te Reo Māori Channel  Programme - Amazing. 
100 Māori Words every New Zealander MUST know - 
Te Pūmanawa - Teaching Te Reo Maori through technology - Free apps :)
Korero Māori - loads of resources and clips :) 

Te Kete Ipurangi - Teaching Resources and for the General Public too :)