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Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: Māori language week

Posted 13 09 2021

in News

Image: uploads/2021_09/News__ResizedImageWzY5Myw0ODRd.png

This week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - Maori Language Week and to mark this and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori: the Māori language moment tomorrow, NZILA Advocacy Panel member Kara Scott has worked with Boffa Miskell’s William Hatton and Auckland Council’s Māori Design Leader Phil Wihongi to compile some phrases and words for the hoahoanga whenua (landscape architecture) profession.

You can find the start of the list here - it will be added to over time.

Phil Wihongi describes himself as a life-long learner of te reo and says it is good to remember some of our most high profile and hugely respected pūkōrero have learnt their reo later in life and were not brought up using it.

He has a bit of a challenge to kaihoahoa whenuato (landscape architects) and NZILA members - “Tuia Pito Ora whānau, the ball is in each of our courts!”

Phil says it is important for kaihoahoa whenuato (landscape architects) to begin to incorporate te reo into the landscape architecture profession. “Te Reo Māori is the first spoken language of this land, and has been used to describe, interpret and authentically express this whenua and the life and culture that springs uniquely from it for hundreds of years.”

William Hatton (who wrote a piece for LAA last week and who is also a tutor at Unitec teaching ‘The Landscapes of Aotearoa’) says although English is the dominant language in this country, there are two official languages, Te Reo Māori and Sign-Language and it is important that hoahoanga whenua (the landscape architecture) industry includes and integrates our distinct first language as it is what makes us unique as a nation.

“Our reo holds the pūrākau, tikanga and whakapapa of the land allowing us as landscape architects to interpret the spaces we inhabit. Te reo is one of many facets to help us grow our understanding of Te Ao Māori. Like all cultures, language is evolving. If we are to evolve as an industry, then inclusion of te reo and Te Ao Māori should be at the forefront, to help us grow our capability, capacity and equity. It is also our obligation to honour tangata whenua and tangata tiriti values, culture and language,” he says.

Phil Wihongi says reo Māori has developed from, and honours our Polynesian and proto-Polynesian roots, and links us directly to indigenous cultures around Te Moana Nui-a-Kiwa and back into south-east Asia.

“Taking root in the fertile soils and temperate climate of Aotearoa, te reo Māori has developed here in response to Aotearoa; her sounds, her moods and the rythyms of life in this place – all of the things that are critical to the development of a truly Aotearoa practice of landscape architecture, uniquely of here.”

He also believes te reo plays an important role as kaihoahoa whenuato (landscape architects) work to try to redress the effects of colonisation.

“Te reo Māori allows us to explore and critique concepts, elements and practices of place in another way and through another world view. By being able to listen to and understand both cultures we are able to look at the whats, whys, whens, whos and hows of our relationship with this whenua and each other, and with that the effects of colonisation.

William Hatton says we are in a time and age now where there is a strong revitalisation of te reo and Māori cultural identity.

“Te reo helps us interpret the whakapapa of the land allowing more collaborative design processes and practices. It is important for us as we are now working in partnership with mana whenua, iwi, hapū and whānau. It is through collaboration and te reo where we can develop deep and meaningful conversations on how we interpret Māori concepts.

“Personally, te reo has been pivotal in my own cultural identity. My koroua was from a time where being Māori was frowned upon, where he was stripped off his own reo, identity and ingoa Māori. After two generations it is only now, my whānau and I are bringing reo back into our everyday life. I am fortunate to have my koroua see many off his mokopuna speaking their native tongue.

“For me, reo helps us as Māori and tauiwi restore cross-generational impacts from colonisation working together to restore our connection to our whenua. It is one of the most poetic languages in the world where the language is likened to layers of Te Taiao (the natural world) - toku reo, toku ohooho - my language is my awakening.”

Phill and William agree more of us should be giving te reo a go but both understand it can be daunting.

Says William; “I too am also reticent of getting my own reo wrong but know that we are in this together - he waka eke noa!. I have been on my reo journey for a few years now and have found that by listening to the language, you can grasp a good understanding of how te reo is spoken.

“I know that it can be quite hard to get started on the reo journey as you can feel whakamā of getting reo wrong. For the many Māori as well as non-Māori speakers and educators that teach te reo, they are always willing to help grow your confidence and pronunciation. If you have a passion to learn and be a part of the waka to revitalise, then give it a go! Reo can be expressed in so many mediums too through kōrero, waiata, whakataukī, panui and many more and is inclusive to all levels and all ages.”

Phil is urging people within the profession to get started on a te reo journey - but also understands reticence.

“Get on board the waka! My kaiako has a great saying to encourage us in our studies – “mā te he, ka mōhio” – through our mistakes, we learn and gain confidence. There is another awesome whakatauki that I love “Mai i te kōpū ki te urupā , ka ako tonu tātou” – from the womb to the grave, we are all learning’, so keeping that in mind we can all recognise that we are all students and consistently learn from each other.”

He urges people to head to the Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori/Māori Language Commission website as it includes a range of resources designed to help all of us on our journeys. He says Te Tau-a-Nuku and The New Zealand Institute of Landscape Archiitects Tuia Pito Ora are beginning to work on a Te Reo Māori Strategy which will provide tools and guidance to work with.

He also suggests looking to local iwi/hapū groups, local marae and Wānanga to find out more about reo learning opportunities.

“Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui – be strong, be brave, be steadfast!”

William suggests starting off small and simply.

“This could be as simple as a greeting, karakia or even a waiata - you are not limited. Saying 'mōrena' or 'tēnā koe' all help towards revitalising and building your own personal capability through pronunciation, context and so on. Incorporating reo into practical work is also not limited and can be as simple as having key kupu Māori (Māori words and phrases) throughout and by listening and interpreting kōrero of tangata whenua.

“With new technologies comes innovative ways for te reo Māori to thrive. There are many apps now that help you with learning and many more to help you with incorporating Te Ao Māori into your daily life. I have recently been using 'Te Maramataka' to inform my daily life, growing my own reo and cultural identity.

“Kia mau koe ki nga kupu o ou tupuna; kia mau ki to Māoritanga - Hold fast to the words of your ancestors, hold fast to your culture”