Te reo teacher re­tires – for fourth time

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - ABBY BROWN

Te reo Maori teacher Will Mur­ray has re­tired for the fourth and hope­fully fi­nal time.

He started help­ing Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dents and staff on ‘‘the Tues­day of Easter 1993’’ at the age of 52, be­fore also work­ing at Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate and Firth School.

He had re­tired from Tele­com, where he had been lay­ing ca­bles.

‘‘I thought ‘this is the life’,’’ he said. ‘‘It lasted about two weeks.’’

He was mo­ti­vated to of­fer his knowl­edge, which he had im­proved by go­ing to night schools to re­learn the lan­guage.

The kau­matua needed to keep busy. He had worked in a tim­ber mill in Pu­taruru where he meet a lady, Linda Dou­glas, ‘‘who nabbed me’’ and brought him back to her home­town of Mata­mata.

He then worked in the po­lice for five years, then J Swap be­fore work­ing for Tele­com.

He not only helped stu­dents learn about Maori history, pro­nun­ci­a­tion and putting pro­to­col into prac­tice through marae stays, he also helped teach­ers.

He would spend 30 min­utes each with the Mata­mata Pri­mary School classes, where his wife taught, and ei­ther he or the teacher would run a pro­gramme and then af­ter­wards he would help the teacher im­prove on the way they pro­nounced words.

The stu­dents were ‘‘like blot­ters’’ ab­sorb­ing the in­for- ma­tion quickly.

He was mo­ti­vated to of­fer his knowl­edge, which he had im­proved by go­ing to night schools to re­learn the lan­guage even though he used it with his fam­ily when he was younger, so that Maori stu­dents could re­tain their iden­tity.

‘‘I had many Euro­pean stu­dents take it and they would be sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful be­cause they wanted to be there. The Maori stu­dents did it cause mum and dad told them to.’’

He was also mo­ti­vated by the Maori proverb ‘Ko te Reo te mauri o te mana Maori’ which means ‘lan­guage is the life prin­ci­ple of Maori pres­tige’.

His big­gest suc­cess was hav­ing two in­ter­me­di­ate stu­dents suc­cess­fully pass High School Cer­tifi­cate in the sub­ject, as well as four night school stu­dents, which he taught at the col­lege.

Al­though he misses the stu­dents, he was sure he would find plenty to keep him busy by split­ting his time in Mata­mata and on Matakana Is­land, which is where he is from, in the Bay of Plenty.

PHOTO: ABBY BROWN

Te reo Maori teacher Will Mur­ray.

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