Illustration by Leo Walton
I am a proud young woman who is Māori, English and Irish and I was brought up celebrating and embracing these beautiful cultures I am a part of.
But I don’t speak or practice Te Reo Māori, the language my ancestors fought for. Although I learnt and studied it for five years during school, I have very little confidence in holding down a conversation. Honestly, it makes me feel quite ashamed and embarrassed when I think about it.
Last year, there was a big debate around whether or not Te Reo Māori should be compulsory in schools. So, I decided to see if my fellow peers both Māori and non- Māori cared around the native language of this country. I posed a question which was quite straightforward and quite confronting: “Do you care about Te Reo Māori?”.
The first two people I interviewed were Japanese exchange students Akane and Chihiro. Akane says she’d like to learn the language “so that I can understand Māori people‘s world view deeply.” Chihiro added she does care about the Māori language, “I want to know about them [Māori people] through learning their mother tongue.”
I was quite amazed with these initial responses. These students are neither Māori nor have any connection to Te Ao Māori, but they do really care which is just awesome.
I ended up talking to a wide range of students from all corners of the world including the likes of South Africa, Japan and Fiji. One response that particularly surprised me was someone who said: “Unfortunately, I wasn't raised to care about it, so it doesn't have any importance to me”. It’s sad, but I completely understand where they’re coming from. Te Reo Māori and Māori history is barely taught at school and unless you’re Māori or you’re put in an environment where the customs are in practice it’s easy to have no idea. But if we call ourselves New Zealanders and live on this land, don’t we owe it to New Zealand to at least learn a little more of the Reo and Māori culture?
If you’re interested and do care about Te Reo Māori, there’s a place where you can learn the language in an awesome environment. Tupu Kupu means ‘To Grow Words’ and is an hour dedicated to Te Reo Māori. It is a safe space for students to come and learn the Reo and everyone is welcome!
Tupu Kupu Is held on all three campuses:
• North Campus - 12-1pm (daily), Monday to Friday, AE116E
• City Campus – 12-1pm (daily), Monday to Friday, WB215
• South Campus – 12-1pm Monday, 1-2pm Friday, MC Level 2
More responses to “Do you care about Te Reo Māori?”.
“I believe [Te Reo Māori] is a vital aspect of New Zealand culture and history.” - Shamah
“I think it’s important to be educated on Te Reo Māori as a resident/citizen of New Zealand.” - Bea
“It’s about our country’s culture.” - Savanah
“[Te Reo Māori] is part of the NZ identity”. - Nicolette
“I heavily support a bilingual culture.” - Tasha
“I think Te Reo is only a small component of a much wider world, that’s the bit I care about.” - Abel
“I see the beauty in trying and the beauty in discovering as I see it is a language of love and support.” - Anon