Maori Language Week

24 July 2012

Nau mai, haere mai! Maori Language Week, or Te Wiki o te Reo Maori, kicked off yesterday (23 July) and this year's theme is Arohatia te Reo, which means 'cherish the language'.

Maori performers

Maori performers

Ameriai Kiriwera, Head of the Māori Department at Wellington East Girls' College, says language is the foundation of any culture and hopes te reo will be used more frequently.

"My language was my awakening," says Ameriai.

"I think we need to make it an everyday thing, even if it's just a greeting, rather than one week a year. I think a lot of people are starting to realise that Māori people learned to speak English so why shouldn't English speakers learn Māori."

Ngā Taiohi o te Rāwhiti - the combined Wellington East Girls' College and Rongotai College Kapa Haka Group - will perform at the City Gallery in Civic Square tomorrow (25 July) from 12.30pm - 1.30pm.

You can listen to the students' stirring speeches they performed at the recent Ngā Manu Kōrero mai Te Whanganui-ā-Tara ki Ōtaki regional speech contest. Two of the girls, Rangimarie Teautama and Wanaka Noanoa, will represent Wellington at the national secondary schools Ngā Manu Kōrero speech contest in Nelson in September.

Rangimarie's speech is about believing and trusting yourself.

 "I want to go to drama school and it's been nerve-wracking for me to take the initiative," says Rangimarie.

"I think a lot of Māori and Polynesian people don't do what they really want to do because they don't believe they can. You can do whatever you want if you believe in yourself. I hope my speech inspires and motivates others."

Wanaka's speech is about face-to-face being better than Facebook.

"Face-to-face is the oldest and best way of communicating," says Wanaka.

"It's a more physical and spiritual connection. If culture is to survive and thrive then face-to-face is the best way to connect."

The Council's Arts and Culture Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says Wellington has a rich Māori heritage and the history, stories and people are easier to relate to if you have learned a little Māori.

"Even being comfortable with sayings like 'Kia Ora' or 'Tēnā Koe' helps to build positive relationships," says Cr Ahipene-Mercer.

"Everyone I know who has learned Māori, including myself, is glad they did.