Tokoroa inspired passion
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.