4. KEEP LEARNING
If Maori Language Week inspired you, you can keep learning te reo Maori at the Highbury Whanau Centre.
Te reo tutor Tahi Gotty thoroughly approves of Maori Language Week.
Gotty has been running community-based Maori language learning for years.
His current sessions are for three hours every Thursday night in the Highbury Whanau Centre.
‘‘I like Maori Language Week, and it’s good TV has picked it up.’’
Of course he would like to see the weather and news captions, place names, news intros and outros extended across the whole year, but having a full week focus once a year is better than having nothing at all.
‘‘Te reo is something everybody can own... like the haka, it gives the country a sense of identity. No one else has it.’’
Gotty’s approach is focused on speaking the language first, with the aim of having his students able to string simple phrases and sentences together a minute after the class starts.
‘‘I don’t tend to use pen and paper... and I only have one rule – ‘Make mistakes your friend’. Many people have inhibitions about mispronunciation. I tell them not to worry. I’ve heard every mispronunciation there is and it doesn’t matter to me. The more they speak, the sooner those mistakes will be fixed.’’
It’s a non-academic approach to learning. Mainstream language education tries to teach students to talk, read and write all at once. For many people, that doesn’t work. One thing at a time, he reckons. Gotty’s students are only allowed to write at the end of the lesson.
‘‘When children pick up a language, they learn to talk first. They listen and then they speak.’’
Gotty teaches phrases based on pictures or objects, based on a method used to teach English as a second language.
‘‘It’s designed to be simple. The basis of a language is rote learning to start off with... it’s not NZQA, but I can get students up to speed so they can feel confident about staying on the journey. Learning Maori, as with anything, is a journey.’’
And if beginners start turning up to the already established classes on Thursday evenings, that’s fine too.
‘‘I teach people who want to learn. If they want to learn, they won’t be turned away.’’
Tahi Gotty’s Te Ataarangi community Maori language classes at Highbury Whanau Centre makes use of coloured te rakau to create pictures and teach te reo.