Maori Language Week encourages the use of more Maori phrases in everyday life. Reporter Kelsey Wilkie met with two kaumatua to discuss how things have changed.
When Augie Rewi, 76, and Sonny Rata, 77, were growing up, te reo Maori was spoken freely, daily. It was integrated into every conversation.
These days the pair attend Patua te Taniwha, a te reo Maori class at Highbury Whanau Centre, just to hear it.
They say they only really use it on the marae.
"The one thing I miss, I miss the Maori speaking wherever," Rewi said.
"It doesn't matter if they're right, wrong or otherwise, it's still good to listen to."
Patua te Taniwha was started more than three years ago for those who spoke te reo to practise it, Highbury Whanau Centre manager Anjali Butler said.
"Many people who had te reo didn't forget it but they didn't have the opportunity to exercise it.
"Te reo was lost as an everyday language, over the years it became confined to just the marae. "Never forgetting, but just not using."
Many more had jumped on board over the years, people of various ages wanting to learn te reo, Butler said.
They ranged from beginners to fluent speakers.
Rewi and Rata like to sit and listen to the group practise.
They like to hear it and only wish they heard it more often.
"To me, te reo is music in my ears," Rewi said.
Butler hopes te reo will be included into conversations beyond just this week, Maori Language Week. "It's not about how fluent you are or what your pronunciation is like, it's about honouring the language by giving it a go and by trying to do your best to use it in everyday context."
Rewi said he would love for people to simply answer the phone and say "Kia ora".
"Don't aim for too much," Rata said.
In the meantime, they are happy that for one week of the year the focus is directed at te reo and that there are some people willing to give it a go. "The biggest thing for me is that they're doing it," Rewi said.
- Manawatu Standard
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