Te reo has always played a big part in Wharehoka Wano's life, both professionally and personally.
Wano, who lives in New Plymouth, said he was inspired to learn more about the language he heard growing up when he was introduced to the world of kapahaka in his teens.
''And I've been on that learning journey ever since,'' he said.
Shaped by stories and waiata passed down through the generations, his knowledge of the language also has roots in academia.
Wano completed his Masters' thesis in 2001, which looked at the use of te reo in the home.
This is something Wano not only preaches but also practices within his own family, with all four of his children able to speak te reo.
When he is not away from the region for work, Wano also carries out leadership duties on behalf of his iwi, Te Atiawa.
This includes speaking on the paepae at marae or at formal functions.
He said he particularly enjoyed the time he spent talking with older kaumatua.
''I love to learn our old waiata, they're like our history books really,'' he said.
Although he said while the statistics around the current number of te reo speakers did not ''make good reading'' there needed to be ongoing efforts to keep the language alive in Aotearoa.
''New Zealand is the only place we can learn and speak our language,'' he said.
He said is was still relatively uncommon to hear Maori being spoken on the street and while events like Maori Language Week provided increased exposure of te reo to a wider population, more could still be done.
For instance, making an effort to pronounce Maori words or names properly was something everyone could do all the time, whatever they are doing.
''Because the beauty of the language is not being heard,'' he said.
He said one of the benefits of Te Atiawa's potential settlement with the Crown in August was the work that could be done to build iwi based language initiatives, particularly on marae.
He said involving the younger generation as part of these projects would also be key to their future success.
''The kids are always the focus and so it should be,'' Wano said.
Favourite whakatauki or proverbs:
Kia mate ururoa
Kei mate wheke
Fight like the hammerhead shark and not like the octopus - a message about overcoming obstacles through perseverance.
Ehara taku toa
He toa taki tahi
He toa takitini
My achievements are not because of me alone, but because we worked as a team.
- Taranaki Daily News
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