Te whakatuwhera i te tatau ki te reo Maori (Opening the door to Maori language)

Kura Reo ki Poihakena is opening its kūaha (door) to prospective te reo Māori learners on Tuesday, November 27.

The open day starts at 10.30am with a powhiri at Poihakena Marae followed by a cup of tea, rākau demonstration and information sharing.

The first language of New Zealand is experiencing a resurgence as people of all ages, from varied backgrounds and ethnicities take up the wero (challenge) of learning te reo Māori.

Led by kaiako Neria Mataira, the total immersion classes run Monday nights, 6.30-8pm and offer the fundamental basics of learning te reo, while students who take the day classes (twice a week, from 9.30am to 2.30pm, Mondays and Tuesdays) are fast-tracked in their language acquisition.

As a second language learner herself, Neria says, learning the language was like looking at the world through different eyes.

“I feel a huge sense of gratitude being able to express myself in te reo Māori, as well as teaching and sharing it with others.”

Connecting to Aotearoa is often the incentive for students at the kura (school) to learn the language, many of whom are from overseas.

Shona Butchart and Alyssa Sealock, from Scotland and the United States respectively, both felt an obligation to learning the indigenous language of their adopted country.

“I have more of a connection to the country I live in. Learning te reo Kura Reo ki Poihakena and culture is a big part of that,” Shona says.

“Learning the language of where you live is the best way to connect to the place,” Alyssa says.

Intermediate and beginners learn together and the levels working side-by-side is the embodiment of the Māori tuakana/teina philosophy (older person helping younger person).

Te Ataarangi developed by Neria’s mother Dame Katarina Mataira is the teaching method for kura reo and classes are total immersion using rākau (cuisenaire rods) to learn instead of pen and paper.

Neria says normalising the language is an important part of regenerating and maintaining the language and everyone is encouraged to take risks in the nurturing environment of the kura.

“It’s great when our students feel comfortable going into town for a coffee and speaking Māori, or using it in their homes with their tamariki (children).”

The Kura Reo ki Poihakena open day on Tuesday, November 27 from 10.30am-12.30pm – all are welcome.

Email Neria at tutekupu@gmail.com or text 021 208 3196 for more information.

Janine Jackson