Sto­ries re­told

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By STRUAN PUR­DIE

A HAR­BOUR rich in mar­itime tra­di­tion and his­tory will be cel­e­brated on July 7 as part of Maori Lan­guage Week.

An­cient sto­ries will be told aboard the 105-year-old sail­ing ship the Jane Gif­ford as part of Voy­ager Mar­itime Mu­seum’s events.

Visi­tors will be in­vited aboard the his­toric boat to ex­plore Maori tales and place names on the Waitem­ata har­bour.

The newly restored 80-foot scow is the last of its kind still op­er­at­ing in New Zealand.

It runs reg­u­lar tours on the Mahu­rangi River but this will be the first time the boat has been used to pro- mote Maori lan­guage.

Te Wananga o Aotearoa sail­ing co-or­di­na­tor and Jane Gif­ford crew mem­ber Stu­art Birnie is look­ing for­ward to the trip on July 7.

‘‘The Waitem­ata Har­bour is rich in Maori mar­itime tra­di­tion and his­tory,’’ he says.

The mu­seum’s cul­tural me­di­a­tor Haare Wil­liams will host the hour-long sail­ings, shar­ing tra­di­tional sto­ries of tani­wha, as well as prophe­cies made long be­fore set­tlers ar­rived in Auck­land of a bridge built across the har­bour.

Mr Wil­liams says such sto­ries play a key role in un­der­stand­ing Maori’s cul­tural her­itage.

‘‘Sto­ry­telling is im­por­tant be­cause it brings the past into the present,’’ the for­mer broad­caster who pi­o­neered Maori ra­dio says.

Mr Wil­liams will also translate key places around the har­bour, in keep­ing with the week’s theme of Maori names.

Mr Wil­liams says he has seen huge im­prove­ments in the up­take of te reo since Maori Lan­guage Week first be­gan in 1975.

He re­calls a time when he worked as a jour­nal­ist when Maori words had to be en­closed in brack­ets.

‘‘Now words like whanau are used widely in both English and Maori.’’

He says the fact that 68,000 non-Maori have taken up learning Te Reo is hugely en­cour­ag­ing.

Mr Wil­liams grew up in re­mote New Zealand and was raised in the tra­di­tional Maori way. He did not learn English un­til he started school as an 8-year-old.

But he soon dis­cov­ered a love for lan­guage through the oral arts of the marae, the Bi­ble and later Shake- speare. He has since be­come a dis­tin­guished poet with work pub­lished in nu­mer­ous books and ex­hi­bi­tions.

Mr Wil­liams says learning to ap­pre­ci­ate Te Reo is vi­tal for New Zealan­ders be­cause a lot of mean­ing con­tained in Maori words is of­ten lost when trans­lated into English.

‘‘We’ve got to come to an un­der­stand­ing of the nu­ances of phrases used in Maori and English so we can come to an un­der­stand­ing that draws on our bi­cul­tural his­tory.’’

The mu­seum’s Maori lan­guage trail will be open each day through the week and visi­tors of all ages can try their hand at te reo.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Set­ting sail: Visi­tors will get a chance to learn more about Maori leg­ends and place names on board the Jane Gif­ford with Haare Wil­liams.

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