Te reo Māori, then English for Kāmehameha Nepia

SCOTT HAMMOND/Stuff.co.nz

Kylie Nepia from Blenheim wants te reo to be the first language of his eight month old daughter, Kamehameha.

Kiley Nepia wants his 8-month-old daughter Kāmehameha's first language to be te reo Māori.

He said it had been five or six generations since his family had a native, first language, Māori speaker.

"We probably haven't had a native speaker since my great, great grandfather," he said.

Kiley Nepia with his 8-month-old daughter Kāmehameha, who will be taught te reo Māori as her first language.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Kiley Nepia with his 8-month-old daughter Kāmehameha, who will be taught te reo Māori as her first language.

"It takes three generations to regenerate a language."

READ MORE:
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Learning te reo for the first time

Nepia is the Omaka Marae manager and cultural advisor for Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō.

Despite his own proficiency in the language, he said it wasn't easy to maintain the necessary discipline when English media and speakers were everywhere.

"I know what the day-to-day struggles are."

Revitalising the language took a multi-pronged approach, said Nepia, who felt he was unlikely to see the language completely restored in his lifetime.

And while Te wiki o te reo Māori, or Māori Language Week, was a great springboard for regeneration, the celebration needed to be longer than a week. 

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"When it stays as just one week of celebrating te reo Māori then it can become tokenistic."

Language in the home was really important, he said.

"We need to be developing households who are speaking te reo Māori."

Other "prongs" included books, online learning, the Māori community, television, and schools.

"We know that families are time-poor," Nepia said.

Taking that into account, he said there were continually more resources available to make te reo learning easier.

Initiatives in Marlborough included Te Wānanga o Aotearoa – where Nepia said a "high proportion" of students were non-Māori – and the Pā Kids after-school programme at Omaka Marae.

He said most iwi had some kind of programme for revitalising Māori language and culture.

"There are more opportunities for people now to engage with and learn te reo Māori," Nepia said.

Te wiki o te reo Māori runs until Sunday. 

 - Stuff

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