Time to learn our in­dige­nous lan­guage

Emma James, from Hamil­ton, learns how to in­tro­duce her­self in Ma¯ori for our

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT -

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.

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