We have come a long way as a nation, using Maori te reo more and more everywhere


OPINION: As another Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Maori Language Week draws to a close, I reflect on the thrill and excitement that has spread throughout our country.

It’s refreshing to hear our reo speak in the streets, on TV when the weather is on, and to see tāngata Tiriti (treaty partners) just trying.

Not only that, but I also noticed the harmony that the week brought. Oneness, and perhaps a taste of what it really feels like to witness a relationship between the treaty partners, an Aotearoa centered around tiriti.

But for many of our whānau like me, this week, while encouraging, can also be a stark reminder of the expectations of Maori.

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Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

Robert Kitchin / Tips

Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer.

I was fortunate to be raised by whānau who wear all the kaupapa on my marae. With this, my ability to karanga, waiata and poi atua was transferred instinctively.

Our passion for kapahaka has been a predominant force in the akoako (training) of te reo. This can be done in a group or depending on your ability to strike notes, privately in your car.

But the ability to converse fluently is still not easy. It takes an environment that surrounds you with ongoing support and whānau with whom to converse.

I am grateful for our monthly marae and hapū te reo wānanga (learning forum), but also as aahikaa (keeping the house fires lit), and cherishing being present on our marae during kaupapa (subjects) as tangihanga .

Having worked at kaupapa Māori for 25 years including Maori and iwi broadcasting, I worked alongside Hone Harawira, Willie Jackson, Reo Irirangi, iwi radio network with the late Dr Huirangi Waikerepuru, the late Esther Tinirau and Haimona Maruera.

All people with different levels of te reo. Although we all often face the same expectations, everyone’s journey is different.

Lillie Simmons teaches te reo Mā ?? ori to Marianne Kerridge at the Te Hopai Retirement Home in Newtown, Wellington.

Jericho Rock-Archer / Tricks

Lillie Simmons teaches te reo Mā ?? ori to Marianne Kerridge at the Te Hopai Retirement Home in Newtown, Wellington.

The expectation of being Maori and being a Teo speaker often does not go hand in hand for many Whānau. With only around 185,000 Teo Maori speakers, being a Maori without fluency is a reality like no other.

Intergenerational “reo-trauma” (the shame of the language) is a symptom experienced by generations, whose Maori parents have been beaten in schools for speaking the language of tangata whenua. I often hear whānau, stories where they are the only Maori in a room, while others expect that because they are, then they can karakia.

The same goes for being Maori without speaking fluently. What follows is the trauma of whakamā. To be distinguished in this room and to feel embarrassed.

We often apologize, turn red, and feel uncomfortable because even though you are proud of your Māoritanga, such expectations hurt your very mana.

But let us remember the whakapapa of this feeling of whakamā, and that it was born from the very hand of the colonialists, whose descendants set expectations today.

It is undeniable that we have collectively come a long way.

The use of te reo Maori courses among our Te Wānanga (Maori universities) providers is huge, often with waiting lists of several months. The adoption of te reo practices in companies is noticed, as is also frequently the case when you are put on hold with a call center.

A spoken language is simply a living language, so I salute all the champions who contribute to its survival.

For me, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori aims to raise awareness of the vulnerability of our language. Built on the foundation of the 1972 Maori language petition presented by Hana Te Hemara of Ngā Tamatoa; 30,000 signatures calling for active recognition of the Maori te reo.

49 years later, Te Paati Māori started a petition to restore “Aotearoa” as the name of our nation, as well as place names to their original Maori ingoa (name). 60,000 signatures in six days are a clear indication that we are ready to realign our compass.

A realignment that sets a clear obligation for this country to recognize Te reo Maori as the first official language in Aotearoa.

Left to right: Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Maori co-leaders of Te Paati, have started a petition to change New Zealand's official name to Aotearoa and restore all te reo Maori names for towns, cities, towns and cities. cities and place names.

ROBERT KITCHIN / Tips

Left to right: Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Maori co-leaders of Te Paati, have started a petition to change New Zealand’s official name to Aotearoa and restore all te reo Maori names for towns, cities, towns and cities. cities and place names.

Having our names restored is one more step towards a naturally bilingual life, where the fusion of our reo in everyday life is naturally acquired. As a learner of Te reo Maori, the more we normalize our language, the more we remove the trauma associated with it.

However, our reo speakers have an obligation to manaaki those who are learning. For tautoko, show solidarity and, above all, do not use our reo for whakaiti (humiliate) others.

I have experienced this at home as a Maori politician, using our reo for whakaiti of others only perpetuates the whakapapa of whakamā, at the hand of the colonizer. We have to be better than that, kia kaha te reo maori.

So whatever your path, I recognize you and encourage you myself as a learner. We are the kaitiaki of our language, and we can only do it as one, in unity.

In conclusion, I want to use a quote from my fellow co-leader Rawiri Waititi. “You may not know your language, but your language does know you. You are enough because your tipuna made it so.

Deb Ngarewa-Packer is a Member of Parliament and co-leader of Te Paati Māori, the Maori party.


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