Last weekend our waiata group – Waiatatia were requested to open the Wakatipu Music Festival at the Memorial Hall. It was a huge honour for our group to do the opening performance for such a renowned festival. By our own admission, our group members are not experienced singers or Kapa Haka performers. The pressure was ramped up on this occasion, when we were told that our performance would be Live Streamed on Radio New Zealand across the world. As nervous as we may have been, it was one of our proudest moments. Our performance began with a whakaeke of the waiata, Te Pū. A waiata that tells the creation story. Our next song was the first public performance of a new song written specifically for our group called He Manu Hou. The message of this song is that despite being early into our journey into Te Reo Māori, we understand how important the language is, summed up by the final lyrics: Ko te reo kia tika, ko te reo kia rere, ko te reo kia Māori. The language should be correct, the language should flow, the language should promote a Māori world view. We finished off with our group’s favourite action song – waiata-a-ringa: Ko te Waipounamu, where we paid respects to the mana whenua who support and nurture us here in the South Island – Te Waipounamu. He wheako mīharo – An amazing experience.
This week we restarted the Kōrerotia te Reo class cycle at Week 1. Another fantastic turnout! Its so inspiring to see so many people, from all walks of life, showing interesting in Māori language. According to the official register, we had 40 people attend the class. On top of that, I received multiple apologies from those who were not able to attend last nights class but will be able to attend the next one. I am so happy with the support from this wonderful community of Tāhuna – Queenstown.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell a not-so-short story of the humble beginnings of our Kōrerotia te Reo group and Te Reo Māori class.
Back in the summer of 2018, a close friend of the Arrowtown community, Keith Crawford, was battling cancer. Keith had a passion for learning Te Reo, so, in secret, we formed a singing group (which would eventually become Waiatatia) to practice Keith’s favourite waiata and one sunny afternoon in 2018 we walked to Keith and Jeannie’s house to surprise the family with a performance. That was the catayst that brought our small community together under a Māori kaupapa.
Keith was one of many in the Arrowtown/Queenstown community who were enrolled in the Te Ara Reo Māori course at SIT, where I was also the teachers aide. One problem that the SIT Reo Māori course always had, was offering pathways past Level 4 (Year 2). Without regular practice, all learnings were easily lost. So as a group we decided that once the level 4 course completed, we would continue to learn and practice on our own. Thus the Kōrerotia te Reo class was born.
Two of our group, Kathleen Brentwood and Jeanette Horn were teachers at Arrowtown school and so they offered the use of their classroom, and on Thursday 1st March 2018, we started the very first Kōrerotia te Reo class.
Over then next few years, the class has gone from strength to strength. At first we were based in Arrowtown, then we moved to Abbeyfield in Frankton to reach more people in the region, and eventually, through the support of Jess Payne at the Frankton Library, the class has eventually settled at the Frankton Library.
Our journey can be summed up with this well known Whakatauki (proverb):
Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei
Pursue that which is precious, if you have to bow your head, let it only be to a lofty mountain
Last weekend was our last – of eight – noho marae for our Rōnakitanga class this year. This final noho marks the end of a year long course in learning Te Reo at level 5. I am so proud of the Tāhuna whānau and the indelible impression that they left on the other students and kaiako at Waihōpai – Invercargill. The Tāhuna and Waihōpai students put on a concert of waiata – Māori songs, to sign off a year of learning, fun and lifelong friendships.
This last noho was at Tomairangi Marae in Invercargill and we were treated to exceptional hospitality, especially at the hākari – feast – where some of Southlands finest delicacies were on offer. This included, Oysters, Kina and Tītī – muttonbird! He makue! He hunene! Delicious!
We all now look forward to our next adventure in learning Te Reo Māori. Wherever that may be!
Last week I was honoured to attend a Kura Reo in Christchurch. A kura reo is a week long full immersion Māori language school facilitated by the prominent Māori language experts in NZ. Tā Tīmoti Karetu was present at the Kura Reo. Tā Tīmoti was one of the creators of Kura Reo and of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo – The highest level of Reo Māori achievement, so having him attend was a huge bonus.
Pānia Papa and Leon Blake who took over as Kaiako for Te Panekiretanga o te Reo were kaiako at the Kura Reo. Rangi Mataamua the prominent expert on Māori astronomy was a kaiako, so were TV Personality couple Scotty and Stacey Morrison. Kai Tahu dialect expert Hana O’Regan was another kaiako and the group was rounded off with an exceptional young woman who is also my own whanaunga – relative – Ruth Smith. Ruth is another graduate of Te Panekiretanga o te reo. While I have a long way to go on my own Te Reo journey, attending Kura Reo along side the highest exponents of the Māori language is truly an honour and the best opportunity for those wanting to pursue Te Reo Māori excellence. Nōku te whiwhi! I felt so lucky!
This week was the last week of the first 10 Week cycle for 2021.
The cycle finished with a wero – challenge – called Taku Kōrero – My story. For this exercise, each student constructs a story about either a pet or a member of the family. The story consists of sentence patterns learned throughout the previous 9 weeks.
Paulina, Alison, Larissa and Kathleen were the brave souls that were happy to recite their kōrero.
He Poho Kererū!