Artist talk­ing te reo Ma¯ori for a month

Waiheke Marketplace - - Conversations - ROSE DAVIS

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.

Paora Toi Te Rangiuaia has taken up the chal­lenge to speak te reo in Septem­ber. ROSE DAVIS/STUFF

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