Toko­roa in­spired pas­sion

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

For­mer Sil­ver Ferns team mem­ber Pa­nia Papa’s pas­sion for te reo Maori has taken her a long way since her days of pro­fes­sional netball.

Papa, who grew up in Toko­roa and played for the Sil­ver Ferns in the early 90s, has gone on to be­come an award win­ning tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter and Maori lan­guage con­sul­tant, cur­ricu­lum and re­source de­signer, trans­la­tor, and editor for the broad­cast­ing in­dus­try.

Her lat­est ac­com­plish­ment is host­ing Opaki, is a new se­ries on Maori Tele­vi­sion set in a home where stu­dents spend a week with her speak­ing only te reo while car­ry­ing out ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties.

It aims to en­cour­age peo­ple to give te reo a go through var­i­ous tips and tricks.

Papa said it was her early years in Toko­roa that helped her de­velop her love for the lan­guage and teach­ing.

‘‘I loved grow­ing up in Toko­roa. We were part of a very close-knit Maori and Pa­cific Is­land com­mu­nity and Te Whanau a Noa at Toko­roa High School was a key part of my teenage years,’’ she said

‘‘I be­gan learn­ing te reo for­mally at Toko­roa In­ter­me­di­ate School at the age of 11, so I’ve been learn­ing for 35 years but I prob­a­bly started speak­ing te reo more flu­ently when I left to go to univer­sity at the end of 1987 when I was in my early 20s.’’

‘‘te reo Maori is im­por­tant to me be­cause it’s like an an­ces­tral heir­loom handed down through many gen­er­a­tions for us to take care of and hand down to the next gen­er­a­tions.’’

She said she was en­joy­ing the show which airs week­days on Maori Tele­vi­sion at 2pm and at 6pm on te reo.

‘‘I’ve had lots of pos­i­tive feed­back about the show. Peo­ple are en­joy­ing the ev­ery­day words and phrases that they can use around the home, ‘‘she said.

‘‘The big­gest chal­lenge is fa­cil­i­tat­ing learn­ing in a short time­frame with lots of tech­ni­cal vari­ables to also take into ac­count.’’

Papa, who has also helped pro­duce Maori lan­guage ver­sions of pop­u­lar car­toons such as Spongebob Squarepants and Dora The Ex­plorer, said Opaki is an ex­ten­tion of the show Ako that has aired for six years.

‘‘My goal is to be part of lan­guage re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion ef­forts that help all peo­ple with a de­sire to ei­ther re­claim or con­nect to the Maori lan­guage and ben­e­fit from its cul­tural rich­ness,’’ she said.

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