Te Henga, Waitākere
This week many of us have celebrated te reo Māori – I have listened and read and, as I listen and read, I try to imagine an Aotearoa where every child becomes fluent, where we hear and see and read te reo Māori everywhere, where we honour the whakapapa of Māori place names and pronounce them correctly. I support te reo Māori as essential learning in all schools.
When I failed school and left without UE I had no idea who and how I wanted to be, but I went to night school to learn te reo Māori. It was Whangārei. It was the 1970s. It was ban the bomb badges and women’s liberation groups. It was vegetarian food and Joni Mitchell retuning her guitar. It was discovering Hone Tuwhare in the high school library. But as much as I thought learning te reo Māori was important, it felt even more important to step back and give space and time to Māori to grow their language again.
A week celebrating te reo Māori is a wonderful thing. A year boosting it even more so. A decade, a lifetime. Language is so important. We are what we speak. Just as our multiple stories are important. That 17 year old young woman is carried inside me, now that I am an older woman, and it feels like I am being invited into the language nest. With small steps, without wanting to speak over or take over, I feel this warm and encouraging embrace. I will make mistakes, I will hear the rōreka, the kõrero. I feel my way as the seeds of a language are planted. Tēnã koutou.
Kia kaha te reo Māori.
I am learning to grow kūmara and potatoes
in my Waitākere garden,
learning to listen
learning to speak
learning to feel
learning to be