Time to learn our indigenous language
Emma James, from Hamilton, learns how to introduce herself in Ma¯ori for our
Te reo Ma¯ori is one of New Zealand’s two official languages, the other being sign, but not many Kiwis know how to speak Maori.
Yes, I am one of those Kiwis, but hopefully not for long.
To kick start Te Wiki o te reo Ma¯ori (Ma¯ori Language Week) I employed a fellow reporter to teach me how to introduce myself in our indigenous tongue.
I learned a small amount of te reo in primary school and throughout my journalism course, but not enough to speak fluently.
This was my first attempt at putting full paragraphs together, and it was hard, but it was also extremely satisfying.
I’ve always tried to pronounce Ma¯ori people’s names and place names correctly.
I don’t always get it right, after all it’s not my first language, but people are generally understanding and appreciate that you’re at least trying.
I personally believe getting someone’s name right is respectful, regardless of their race.
Katrina Tanirau was my tutor, and she started by teaching pronunciation, writing Ma¯ori words on the whiteboard with the phonetic sounds underneath.
As a visual person, this made it easier to learn.
When I first looked at the mihi she had written for me, it was quite daunting. However once I started to correctly pronunciate, I found it easier.
Before I introduced myself I did a tauparapara (saying at the beginning of a mihi) with a metaphoric meaning.
It basically translates to: There is life in all of us so when you hear the cry of the birds, you know that everything is alive and well.
Te reo is a poetic language, and metaphors are regularly used when describing things.
I only know parts of my mihi by-heart, so I read it off the sheet, but it is my goal to have it all by the end of Ma¯ori Language Week.
I may not have nailed my first mihi, but I am proud that I tried, and I hope to learn more as the year goes.
The theme for this year is ‘‘Kia Ora’’.
It was chosen by the Ma¯ori
Language Commission to celebrate New Zealand’s indigenous greeting.
The words are also a description of the intent of new partnerships for revitalisation between the Crown and Ma¯ori under the New Zealand Ma¯ori Act 2016.
Ma¯ori Language Week was established in 1975 and encourages New Zealanders to use more Ma¯ori phrases in everyday life.
This year it runs from September 11-17.
The campaign to revive the language has been long, but is starting to take hold as more schools adopt the language. I would like to thank Katrina for teaching me something new
Katrina Tanirau teaches reporter Emma James a simple mihi for Maori Language Week, 2017.