'Language nest' starts at home

17:00, Jul 24 2014

A big part of parenting is providing children with values and life skills as they move into adulthood.

Another thing Hawera's Omahuru Robinson intends to pass along to his two children is the gift of te reo.

''I feel it is my job as a parent and as a father to provide that,'' he said.

Robinson, who is chair of Nga Hapu of Ngaruahine Iwi Inc, said he was given the language by his father, who spoke te reo in the family home.

And this is where Robinson believes the answer to the language's survival rests.

''The language nest actually starts in the home,'' he said.


Being able to speak Maori has meant the 38-year-old has had opportunities to perform cultural roles he may not have been able to do if he did not have the language.

As a trained teacher, Robinson has played a role in helping others learn and believes it is important to find more ways for the  language to be used, citing digital technology as an option.

He said although this might challenge some of the more traditional views held within Maoridom, it needed to happen as part of a plan to keep te reo relevant in a modern world.

''We've got to have different approaches,'' he said.

Robinson said Maori Language Week was one way to raise awareness around the language but it was only a beginning step.

''There's a lot more that could be done,'' he said.

Although the number of Maori speakers was in decline, Robinson said the population itself was growing and with Ngaruahine's settlement pending, there was potential to improve on the statistics within the iwi itself.

Robinson said the likely focus would be on developing evidence-based language programmes which took a holistic view of the person.

''We are looking at collaborating with other iwi and providers,'' he said.

Robinson said strengthening the whanau unit was an important focus for the iwi and te reo was one way the playing field could be levelled out for future generations.

''The language is one area where we can do that for our kids,'' he said.  

Favourite whakatauki or proverb:

E kore au e mate, ka mate
Ko te mate, ka ora ai ahau
I shall not die, even when death itself is dead, I shall be alive - inspired by Ngaruahine chief  Titokowaru

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