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.
First and foremost, I can see how te reo and Māori culture is becoming a part of everyday life for more people in Aotearoa, and it’s wonderful. 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.
My son came home the other day and said to me, “oh Mum, I’m hiakai” and I thought that’s really cool, I know what he means and I wouldn’t have before this course. It’s just the small things. Through Matariki, I could talk with him about it and what it meant to him. It means that we make an effort to read bilingual books, we look up Māori mythology and we are learning together. It helps that te reo is more widely spoken on television and radio. I am very proud that my children are learning te reo.
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.
Ko Rangitoto tōku Maunga
Ko Waitematā tōku Moana
Ko Friedburg tōku Waka
Ko Ingarangi tōku Iwi
Ko Kotimana tōku Hapu
Ko Justine tōku Ingoa