Latitude Magazine

Fish and Chips With a Serv­ing of Te Reo /

‘My as­pi­ra­tion is to have main­stream New Zealan­ders em­brac­ing and us­ing words like “whā­nau” and “hui” and an­swer­ing the phone with “kia ora”.’

- WORDS Kim Newth / IMAGES Char­lie Jack­son

An­ton Matthews and his pas­sion for te reo

FUSH, a whā­nau fish and chip shop in Wi­gram, is lead­ing the way on nor­mal­is­ing te reo Māori in the com­mu­nity. We meet with co-owner An­ton Matthews to learn about his pas­sion for shar­ing te reo through the medium of kai and man­aak­i­tanga.

IN MAY 2018, AS WORD BE­GAN TO SPREAD THAT

F USH planned to host free te reo Māori classes, An­ton and Jess Matthews, along with An­ton’s sis­ter Māia Matthews, quickly re­alised that the small-scale lan­guage event they’d en­vis­aged was about to morph into some­thing much big­ger.

More than 3,000 peo­ple clicked that they were in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing in the days lead­ing up to the in­au­gu­ral class at the cou­ple’s Wi­gram restau­rant. To ac­com­mo­date un­prece­dented de­mand, the venue was in­stead switched to a school au­di­to­rium. More than 800 peo­ple at­tended the hugely pop­u­lar classes, pre­sented by An­ton, ev­ery week they were held. ‘We were blown away by the re­sponse,’ An­ton re­calls. ‘We thought we’d get about a dozen peo­ple com­ing to the restau­rant and that we’d fill a cou­ple of ta­bles but it turned into some­thing so much big­ger.’

An­ton has long been pas­sion­ate about nor­mal­is­ing te reo Māori, not just at home with whā­nau but in the work­place too. He re­calls how one day at F USH he heard his young daugh­ter, Te Ariā Aroha, say some­thing to him in English even though the only lan­guage they spoke to­gether at home was te reo Māori. He was con­cerned that she was start­ing to feel un­com­fort­able about speak­ing te reo in a con­text where ev­ery­one else was con­vers­ing in English. It sparked the de­ci­sion to step up on te reo Māori in the fam­ily busi­ness.

‘We in­tro­duced it at F USH to be­gin with, by trans­lat­ing the menu so it would be bilin­gual with one side in English and the other in Māori. That caught peo­ple’s eyes and led to a whole bunch of other things like the te reo classes, but also the menu notes teach­ing peo­ple how to or­der food and drinks in Māori.’

Te Ariā Aroha is now eight years old and her brother Mana Ariki is six and, at the time of writ­ing, An­ton and Jess were ex­pect­ing their third child. Shar­ing hos­pi­tal­ity and te reo is a big fo­cus for the whole whā­nau, with Te Ariā Aroha and Mana Ariki join­ing their par­ents on an­nual road trips around the South Is­land with the Lit­tle Fush Waka (food truck) in tow.

‘In 2019 we did 10 towns: we stopped at school halls and au­di­to­ri­ums and had hun­dreds and hun­dreds of peo­ple turn­ing up for classes to learn ba­sic te reo. It was good for our kids to see their mum and dad in­vest­ing time and ef­fort to do that; they know how im­por­tant it is to us and that te reo Māori is not just the lan­guage we use to com­mu­ni­cate at home. It is far more than that; it was a re­ally cool ex­pe­ri­ence.’

Over re­cent months, An­ton, Jess and Māia (also a busi­ness part­ner in F USH) have been work­ing to de­velop an­other smart way to bring te reo Māori into peo­ple’s lives. Coin­cid­ing with Māori Lan­guage Week in 2020, FUSH re­leased te reo Māori branded tomato sauce in part­ner­ship with Barker’s of Geraldine. If the goal is to nor­malise the lan­guage, then, as An­ton says, it has to be ev­ery­where – not just on the marae but right there on the tomato sauce bot­tle too. The sauce is a low-salt, low-fat Barker’s recipe, made with New Zealand toma­toes. The hope is that if it sells well then

it will go into su­per­mar­kets with te reo branded tomato sauce avail­able across Aotearoa.

An­ton is con­vinced that in or­der for te reo Māori to sur­vive and thrive, it needs to be used for mun­dane pur­poses as well as im­por­tant oc­ca­sions. ‘It needs to be heard when you’re or­der­ing cof­fee, when you’re pay­ing your bills and when you’re mak­ing din­ner.’

Any­one who has started the jour­ney of try­ing to learn ba­sic te reo Māori as an adult will ap­pre­ci­ate how hard it is to find the time and en­ergy re­quired to make head­way. For be­gin­ners, An­ton rec­om­mends learn­ing the lan­guage in small bite-sized pieces.

‘Every­day te reo by F USH’ – a se­ries of YouTube videos that An­ton has put to­gether – is a good place to start and te reo videos are also posted from time to time on the F USH Face­book page. Hemi Kelly’s ‘Every­day Māori’ pod­cast is an­other ex­cel­lent learn­ing re­source.

‘As New Zealan­ders, my dream is that we can get to a place where we em­brace te reo Māori as a taonga [trea­sure] that be­longs to all of us – and I in­clude Māori in that too. As Māori, we have to ac­cept non-Māori want­ing to learn the lan­guage as well. My as­pi­ra­tion is to have main­stream New Zealan­ders em­brac­ing and us­ing words like “whā­nau” and “hui” and an­swer­ing the phone with “kia ora”.’

F USH em­bod­ies his as­pi­ra­tion, along with a rev­er­ence for ‘man­aak­i­tanga’ and ‘kaiti­ak­i­tanga’. The lat­ter word loosely means ‘guardian­ship’ and, from a busi­ness per­spec­tive, it means op­er­at­ing in sus­tain­able, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ways and con­sid­er­ing so­cial im­pacts. It per­me­ates all as­pects of the busi­ness, driv­ing pur­chase de­ci­sions on sus­tain­ably caught fish and eco-friendly pack­ag­ing, as well as hir­ing de­ci­sions that favour peo­ple re­ally need­ing a leg up.

Man­aak­i­tanga is about be­ing a good host and look­ing af­ter peo­ple – whā­nau, manuhiri (guests), staff and the wider com­mu­nity.

‘You can’t have mana with­out be­ing able to do man­aak­i­tanga: if I’m do­ing man­aak­i­tanga well then my mana in­creases and the op­po­site is also true. For us, this is not just about cre­at­ing a good busi­ness but also a won­der­ful staff who wel­come these prin­ci­ples as well, and are will­ing to go out into their lives and prac­tise man­aak­i­tanga as peo­ple, not just at F USH.’

An­ton has lived in Ōtau­tahi Christchur­ch all his life, bar­ring a few years spent over­seas. His whaka­papa (ge­neal­ogy) also con­nects him with North­land (Te Rū­nanga o Te Rarawa). An­ton’s par­ents, Heather and Hec­tor Matthews, wanted their son to grow up speak­ing te reo Māori and he at­tended Christchur­ch’s full-im­mer­sion Māori lan­guage school, Te Kura

Coin­cid­ing with Māori Lan­guage Week in 2020, FUSH re­leased te reo Māori branded tomato sauce in part­ner­ship with Barker’s of Geraldine.

Kau­papa Māori o Te Whā­nau Tahi. ‘That was mas­sive for me and I’m re­ally grate­ful to my par­ents for putting me there as it gave me such a good foun­da­tion as an adult.’

As a young man, An­ton was in­ter­ested in both busi­ness and teach­ing. Af­ter leav­ing school, he worked in bars and restau­rants, dis­cov­er­ing a flair for hos­pi­tal­ity be­fore spend­ing a year study­ing busi­ness and then en­rolling at univer­sity to train as a teacher. He thought teach­ing would be his fu­ture ca­reer, but af­ter two years found he wasn’t en­joy­ing it and was miss­ing hos­pi­tal­ity.

He ul­ti­mately re­turned to hos­pi­tal­ity, af­ter hon­ing his pas­sion for te reo Māori in 2012 at the em­i­nent In­sti­tute of Ex­cel­lence in te reo Māori, Te Panekire­tanga o te Reo Māori. The in­vi­ta­tion-only course in both te reo and tikanga (pro­to­cols and cus­toms) proved hugely chal­leng­ing and re­ward­ing. He bought his first busi­ness at the start of 2013.

To­day, he and his whā­nau own and op­er­ate F USH, Joe’s Garage in Wi­gram and a cou­ple of food trucks. They came through the Level 4 Lock­down well and con­tinue to work hard, ev­ery day bal­anc­ing busi­ness with the needs of their whā­nau and a love of te reo Māori. A goal for 2021 is to open an­other F USH store, still un­der their own­er­ship.

As we end our in­ter­view, I ask An­ton if he would like to share a favourite phrase with our read­ers. Here it is:

Ko te amorangi ki mua, Ko te hā­pai ō ki muri.

He says it can be loosely trans­lated as ‘there is mana in be­ing out front and out the back’. Ev­ery­one has a pur­pose and ev­ery­one is im­por­tant. In re­gards to te reo Māori, it could be in­ter­preted as mean­ing ‘ev­ery­one can be a part of it’.

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 ??  ?? ABOVE FUSH is a wel­com­ing fam­ily-owned restau­rant, epit­o­mis­ing man­aak­i­tanga (hos­pi­tal­ity, care for oth­ers) and kaiti­ak­i­tanga (guardian­ship, stew­ard­ship).
OP­PO­SITE An­ton Matthews leads with aroha in his goal to nor­malise te reo Māori in the com­mu­nity.
ABOVE FUSH is a wel­com­ing fam­ily-owned restau­rant, epit­o­mis­ing man­aak­i­tanga (hos­pi­tal­ity, care for oth­ers) and kaiti­ak­i­tanga (guardian­ship, stew­ard­ship). OP­PO­SITE An­ton Matthews leads with aroha in his goal to nor­malise te reo Māori in the com­mu­nity.
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