A little te reo with your tea

GEORGE GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 16/04/2014
Patrick Griffiths
CULTURE BOOST: Ringawera owner Patrick Griffiths encourages his customers to try a few words of Maori, illustrated on posters around the coffee shop.
Exit sign
George Gardner
ROMANTIC DEPARTURE: Even the exit is an opportunity for a bit of language immersion.

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Being encouraged to practise a few words of Maori is a novelty for coffee drinkers at a venue on the Te Whau Peninsula.

It's happening at Ringawera, which has become a buzzy little place since opening its doors just before Christmas.

The purpose built bakery has been going since 2009 and 99 per cent of its artisan breads are supplied to island shops, restaurants and cafes.

Its Lavash brand is famous among foodies - supplying 40 outlets around the country, and winning the Supreme Cuisine Artisan Award this year.

But it's the coffee shop that has been providing residents with a place to meet and chat every morning - something that hasn't been seen since the days of the Rocky Bay Store.

On a Sunday, you can arrive at 8.30am, right at opening time, and by 8.35am there is a queue of locals out the door, waiting for their freshly baked hot cross buns, patisserie, artisan breads and hot, steaming drinks.

And if you say "He kawhe maku", instead of "I'd like a coffee", you'll get 50c off for your trouble.

Owner Patrick Griffiths says the idea of introducing Maori is to support people to learn the language at whatever level they want, and to feel comfortable about it.

He and his wife Hinemoa have been studying te reo for seven years.

"If you want to speak Italian you can go to Italy and immerse yourself in the language but there's no place you can really go to speak te reo Maori.

"It's one of our three official languages and is a taonga - it's very precious."

Customers don't have to fret. Nicely illustrated posters explain how to order.

"He ti otaota maku" means "I'll have a herbal tea".

If you want a long black, you can read off the sign: "He kawhe tiwhatiwha kerekere me te roa maku."

And if you want to stick with English, no problem. The Maori is there for those who want to have a go. More outdoor seating is planned at Ringawera, and people are welcome to walk around the garden and listen to the native bird song.

For visitors who drive, a friendly sign, "tunga waka" translates as "parking".

And for those who have exercised their calf muscles, the steep walk back up the drive is worth it.

A message at the exit makes you want to return.

"Kia pai o koutou haere, kia ti toki kia koroi."

"Until we meet again."

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