A few challenges in Mahuru Māori
Attempting to order a Big Mac with no patties in te reo Māori is just one of the challenges Shaquille Shortland has faced this month.
There have also been looks of confusion, friends who don’t reply to messages, and family who message him even in the same room.
The Whangārei man is taking part in Mahuru Māori, a challenge to only speak te reo Māori for the month of September.
“It’s a very lonely challenge, especially if your family and close-by friends don’t really speak Māori. Same in the work environment. I suppose the best place is Facebook because there’s dedicated groups for people doing the challenge. So I put up in Māori ‘we should change the name to Mahuru Mokemoke’ which is lonely September,” he said.
Shortland, 24, did not grow up around te reo but began learning at Hato Petera college. He would follow the priests, kaumātua and kuia, picking up on the different expressions they would use.
“I’m quite a quick learner. I learn songs as they’re being played so it didn’t take me long to be confident in speaking te reo, but whether I was good at it or not at the time is another story. It’s about encouraging people to just speak it.” Shortland, who now teaches te reo Māori, has being taking part in Mahuru Māori since 2016.
“It does encourage other Māori to pick up their Māori. If they can’t quite understand me it makes them go ‘Oh, I better go back and look up what that word means’. But it’s also a really personal benefit, so that I’m not losing the reo for myself.” But there are also challenges.
“I was with a friend who wanted a Big Mac without patties, and I don’t even like ordering that in English because it sounds stupid. In the end I just ended up getting Filet-o-fish, He Hamupaka Ika. They understood that.”
A parade to celebrate and promote Māori Language Week has “grown beyond our wildest expectations,” organisers say.
For the first time, a parade to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori will be held in Whangārei on Friday.
Moana-aroha Henry, Whangārei Girls’ High School kaiako Māori, said the school-led initiative started from wanting to take a community-based approach to Māori Language Week, which started on Monday.
“The bigger cities like Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland are doing a hīkoi. So we thought why can’t Whangārei do one too? So this will be the first time for Whangārei.
“We’re looking at coming together as a Māori reo community, so not necessarily just Māori but non-māori who are enthused by te reo Maori, and trying to normalise te reo Māori in our community,” she said.
The parade starts with a karakia outside Whangārei Library at 10.30am. It will move to the Cameron St mall with a flash mob haka and waiata before the hīkoi proceeds to the Canopy Bridge at the Town Basin. Ringi Hohepa, WGHS Head of Māori, said so far 1400 people from the Far North to Kaipara had registered their attendance for the parade.
“We first thought it would just be Whangārei Girls’ High School and a couple of whanaunga who are already in the world of te reo Māori,” she said. “About time — I think that’s what the reaction was — someone has finally got the passion to carry this.”
Kim Rogers, Whangārei Girls High School deputy principal, said the parade was a positive affirmation of te reo Māori.
“We hope to highlight te reo is here to stay. It’s one of three official languages of Aotearoa [with English and NZ Sign Language] and we’ve got support in our community and our rohe of Te Tai Tokerau.”
Whanga¯ rei’s Shaquille Shortland is speaking only te reo Ma¯ ori for the entire month of September.
MOANA-AROHA Henry, Whangārei Girls’ High School kaiako Maori, Ringi Hohepa, head of Māori, and deputy principal Kim Rogers are excited for the city’s first Māori Language Week parade.