A Picton woman has returned to her roots at Waikawa Marae to take up the role of kaiako, or teacher, at the marae's kohanga reo.
Melinee Te Keeti returned to Picton in 2011 after 15 years in Christchurch. She made the decision to head "home" with her three boys after their home was destroyed in the February 2011 earthquakes.
The family arrived in Picton with just a few bags of clothes.
The trained teacher has spent the past few months volunteering at Queen Charlotte College with their kapa haka group.
When her youngest son started school, Ms Te Keeti felt the time was right to return to the marae, which her parents helped establish.
"I feel like I'm in the right space to do this . . . it's just where I grew up and I think I can give something back to this place that made me who I am," she said.
Through her work, Miss Te Keeti hoped to expand the kohanga to widen the reach of te reo Maori within the community and create more jobs in Marlborough.
She hoped to eventually establish a kura kaupapa, or Maori primary school, to provide children from the kohanga with somewhere to go and help them continue to use te reo when they reached school age.
"[I want to] build up the mokopuna [children] and teach them te reo. There's a chance to really make a big difference in our community for all Maori and give people jobs," she said.
Miss Te Keeti was officially welcomed onto the marae on Friday with a powhiri, and began her role at the kohanga yesterday.
- The Marlborough Express