it at high school but didn’t pursue it seriously until she took it up in 2007 as part of a bachelor of Maori development at AUT.
By 2009 she’d started assisting on language classes and went on to study a masters of arts and Maori development.
Kelly felt compelled to hone his language skills.
‘‘There was just a feeling of responsibility that you need to learn your language,’’ the 26-yearold says.
At university Cowell fell in love with the language.
‘‘I guess it’s a feeling that can’t really be identified until you do start learning it. Then you realise that was what was missing. For me it was about my bigger journey of finding out who I was.’’
Becoming a teacher was always a goal for Kelly.
’’I just thought I wanted to help other people, like how people have helped me in my journey. That’s where I’ve always had the most support, from my language teachers.’’
The number of fluent speakers might mean the language is still endangered but Kelly is optimistic the situation will improve.
‘‘My first cousin and I are the only speakers in two generations, which shows a lot of our whanau aren’t interested.
‘‘But those that do learn encourage others. It is hopeful and I can’t ever see the language dying.’’
Increased understanding: AUT lecturers Hemi Kelly and Jamie Cowell say studying Maori gives an insight into the Maori world view.