There are a couple of reasons why I’ve taken the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Māori culture and do the te reo course at Fonterra through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
When I was growing up there was a little bit at the fringes for me; for example, I was part of the kapa haka group at intermediate school, but as I got older and went through high school and university my involvement tapered off.
I now have two young children. After coming back from living overseas for a number of years, I could see that te reo was a lot more integrated in the school curriculum and I felt quite unprepared to support them in their te reo journey and growing up in Aotearoa. I learnt French and Latin at high school, but never considered te reo. My kids on the other hand use Māori words almost every day.
Secondly, I see how much more te reo is used in a professional context. There was a time when I would feel nervous about speaking te reo, so I thought I needed to do something about it. Now, when I go to meetings and I deliver my pepeha or a mihi, I feel more confident. I would encourgage anyone to do a te reo course. I’ve not only learnt basic te reo and expanded my knowledge of Māori culture, but I have also met some amazing people along the way.