Te reo teacher retires – for fourth time
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.
Te reo Maori teacher Will Murray.