Waikato reporter accepts Māori language challenge video

Emelyn McHardy/Stuff

Reporter Katrina Tanirau teaches reporter Cambridge Edition a simple mihi for Te Wiki o te reo Maori (Maori Language Week).

Te reo Māori is one of New Zealand's two official languages, the other being sign, but not many Kiwis know how to speak Maori.

Yes, I am one of those Kiwis, but hopefully not for long.

To kick start Te Wiki o te reo Māori (Māori Language Week) I employed a fellow reporter to teach me how to introduce myself in our indigenous tongue.

Katrina Tanirau teaches reporter Emma James a simple mihi for Maori Language Week, 2017.
Emelyn McHardy

Katrina Tanirau teaches reporter Emma James a simple mihi for Maori Language Week, 2017.

I learned a small amount of te reo in primary school and throughout my journalism course, but not enough to speak fluently.

This was my first attempt at putting full paragraphs together, and it was hard, but it was also extremely satisfying.

I've always tried to pronounce Māori people's names and place names correctly.

The words were written on the whiteboard with phonetic spelling underneath to help teach pronunciation.
Emma James

The words were written on the whiteboard with phonetic spelling underneath to help teach pronunciation.

I don't always get it right, after all it's not my first language, but people are generally understanding and appreciate that you're at least trying.

I personally believe getting someone's name right is respectful, regardless of their race.

Katrina Tanirau was my tutor, and she started by teaching pronunciation, writing Māori words on the whiteboard with the phonetic sounds underneath.

As a visual person, this made it easier to learn.

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When I first looked at the mihi she had written for me, it was quite daunting. However once I started to correctly pronunciate, I found it easier.

Before I introduced myself I did a tauparapara (saying at the beginning of a mihi) with a metaphoric meaning.

It basically translates to: There is life in all of us so when you hear the cry of the birds, you know that everything is alive and well.

Te reo is a poetic language, and metaphors are regularly used when describing things.

I only know parts of my mihi by-heart, so I read it off the sheet, but it is my goal to have it all by the end of Māori Language Week.

I may not have nailed my first mihi, but I am proud that I tried, and I hope to learn more as the year goes.

The theme for this year is "Kia Ora".

It was chosen by the Māori Language Commission to celebrate New Zealand's indigenous greeting.

The words are also a description of the intent of new partnerships for revitalisation between the Crown and Māori under the New Zealand Māori Act 2016.

Māori Language Week was established in 1975 and encourages New Zealanders to use more Māori phrases in everyday life.

This year it runs from September 11-17.

The campaign to revive the language has been long, but is starting to take hold as more and more schools adopt the language in their curriculum.

I would like to say a big thank you to Katrina for teaching me, and having the patience with me while I learn something new.

Taku mihi:

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka, ka tangi hoki ahau. Tihei mauri ora.

E nga mana, e nga reo, e rau rangatira ma, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Ko Taranaki te maunga.

Ko Waiwhakaiho te awa.

Ko Lepperton toku turangawaewae, engari no Kirikiriroa ahau e noho ana.

Ko ahau te tamariki anake o Ross raua ko Jane James.

Ko Jerran Carroll toku hoa tane.

Ko Emma James toku ingoa.

 - Stuff

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