Artist talking te reo Ma¯ori for a month
Trying to talk only in Ma¯ori during September is proving challenging and rewarding for Waiheke sculptor Paora Toi Te Rangiuaia.
He has taken up the Mahuru Ma¯ori, or Ma¯ori September, challenge as part of Ma¯ori Language Week, which started on September 11. The commitment has involved getting cards and two t-shirts printed saying he will only ‘‘ko¯rero i te reo rangatira’’, but ‘‘don’t be afraid, let’s treat it like a game’’.
At times, such as during Environment Court mediation over plans for a Waiheke marina, he has spoken in te reo and then translated. ‘‘Speaking at home and at work has been both challenging and encouraging, filled with anxiety broken by laughter,’’ he wrote.
He started learning te reo when he was about 26 years old and has taken a couple of short courses. ‘‘I’m still learning. I’m mainly self taught by being thrown in at the deep end.’’
Recently, he has been adding to his knowledge by taking a course taught by Ani Morris at Piritahi Marae.
He describes Ma¯ori language as offering keys to unlock a landscape of nga whaka¯ro, thoughts and emotions, that ‘‘tie you to the rich tapestry of intermingled genealogies and associated histories’’.
One of the rewards for sticking with te reo has been inspiring other island residents to speak their own first language at home.
Waiheke High School Ma¯ori performing arts teacher Te Ao Ma¯rama Hau has challenged other staff to use the Ma¯ori words they know in the classroom and to learn five to 10 new words each week during Ma¯ori September.
Hau was brought up in Kaikohe with Ma¯ori as a first language. ‘‘If our language dies, our people pretty much die. It’s my passion, it’s my drive and it’s my duty,’’ she said.
Words such as aroha, kia ora, and wha¯nau have become part of everyday language in New Zealand and Hau hopes to see the use of Ma¯ori grow.
‘‘We appreciate those that give it a go, so don’t be scared. The only way you can improve is by becoming more comfortable using it.’’
Waiheke Ma¯ori fashion designer Jeanine Clarkin said she can’t always express herself fully in English. ‘‘This is one of the main reasons I love te reo, as it is an extension of my being and definitely my wellbeing,’’ she said.