Waikato Times begins its Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori series with Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam who is encouraging young and old to give te reo a go this Maori Language Week.
The Chiefs make a habit of using one Maori word a day, but are looking to ramp that up to a few phrases for Maori Language Week. And co-captain Liam Messam will be leading that effort.
He even came up with a word of the day for fans: "Makariri". It means cold.
"Maori Language Week is important, it's our native language. To see te reo being taught in schools and seeing the kids using it is awesome . . . It's always cool when you can learn your own language.
"We always do something for the week. It's a time to reconnect with what we are about.
"Maoridom plays a huge part with us here at the Chiefs and our boys are getting right behind it." Messam hopes to one day speak te reo Maori fluently and is slowly building up his vocabulary, which has been helpful in catching out his Maori Television sports show Code hosts when they have a joke at his expense.
"I can't speak fluently yet. When I have the time I will delve right into it. But I have been using simple phrases, especially doing stuff for Maori TV and I am slowly catching on when they talk about me," the Chiefs loose forward told the Waikato Times.
"Since being on Code, the team there have helped me with the basics, which I am picking up. My goal is to speak it. It's an awesome language."
An uri of Tuhoe, Messam said the language became even more important when his son was born.
"I have a four-year-old son who is learning te reo through his Hukanui league team and he's picked it up pretty quickly. I'd better catch up or I will be left in the dust."
Messam has also been involved in helping with the Chiefs uniform, which is something he takes pride in.
"I'm just a real proud and passionate Chiefs man. I wanted to help design a jersey that has a deep and powerful meaning." He declined specifics, but did say "the design represents the patu, our weapon of choice. We also have the river, the awa which flows through connecting all of us, our players come from all different parts of New Zealand as well as England and Fiji, and it is the awa that connects us all."
- Waikato Times