Whanau, music move language forward

00:36, Jul 23 2014
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer
WHANAU, HAPU AND IWI: Debbie Ngarewa-Packer finds a link to her heritage in Te Reo Maori.

Te Reo Maori for me is about whanau, hapu and iwi.

My koro, who was born in 1901, was a native speaker and played a huge influence in my life.

So, hearing Te Reo Maori today always makes me feel connected to him and my heritage and to all that we were, are and can be.

I believe there are many ways and forms to transport Te Reo Maori forward. It can be within the comforts of our whanau environments, with aunties, uncles and cousins or at marae, which for me is Pariroa.

Another example of how it can be done is through music. The Patea Maori Club is just one group who keep our reo and Maori tikanga alive through what they do. I am extremely proud of their achievements, including their success 30 years ago with the first Maori No 1 hit song, Poi E.

The group were ahead of their time and it is their consistency to keep aspiring to new heights which encourages me to be a life learner of our reo o Ngati Ruanui.


Te Reo is also transferred through the use of waiata, karanga and karakia. We have third and fourth generations today who can lead, celebrate and promote Te Reo Maori at tangi, powhiri, wananga and on a regional, national and global stage.

I myself have travelled overseas in delegations to the United Nations and to places like Stanford University. Being able to identify myself as Maori in such places is an awesome experience. It was obvious to me during my time there just how highly people outside New Zealand regard Maori and other indigenous cultures.

I respect our leaders who choose to live at home and teach as well as pass on our reo and I am absolutely inspired by the passion and respect our rangatahi have for their reo rangatira.

In closing, I would like to share a favourite whakatauki of my own. He tangata too mua, he whenua too muri - even when we are gone the land will always remain.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is the kaiarataki of Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui, which is based in Hawera.

Taranaki Daily News