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Te Hunga Roia Kura Reo 2018

09 November 2018 - By Alana Thomas

Tuia ki runga, tuia ki raro, tuia te rangi e tū nei, tuia te papa e takoto nei, tuia te muka tangata e rangitāmiro nei i a tātou ki a tātou. Kei aku rangatira, kei ngā whetu maiangi o te ao ture, tēnā koutou katoa.

For the last few years, the desire to understand, learn and strengthen te reo Māori within Aotearoa has been at the forefront in many legal environments. It is for that reason that the idea for a kura reo, a full immersion course in te reo Māori, designed specifically for those working, teaching or studying within the law, was developed and progressed by Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (THRMOA).

The idea was for a kura reo to be open to all those who desired to broaden their knowledge of te reo Māori, while accommodating all levels of proficiency.

In July this year, the inaugural kura reo for the legal sector was held at Hoani Waititi Marae in Auckland. THRMOA were fortunate to engage several well-known and respected kaiako (teachers) to attend and be a part of this very first law-based Kura Reo. E tika ana kia mihia o mātou kaiako, a Tātere (Jeremy) MacLeod, Karena Kelly, Hemi Kelly, Tai Ahu.

Immersion environment

The main goal during the kura reo was to create an immersion environment where te reo Māori would flow freely, be the dominant language and where all participants would feel comfortable enough to engage in this environment fully without fear of judgement.

The way in which THRMOA believed this could be achieved was to hold this kura reo on a marae, so that the participants could be surrounded by an environment that not only upholds te reo Māori, but also practises tikanga Māori in an everyday setting.

A group outside a traditional Maori meeting house

It was clear that this was demonstrated throughout the kura reo but, more particularly, right from the very beginning of the kura reo during the pōwhiri process.

The participants experienced a formal welcome on to the marae wherein they witnessed first-hand the tikanga of pōwhiri and all its counterparts: karanga, mihimihi, waiata, karakia etc.

For many tauira (students), this was the first time they had been a part of a pōwhiri process and many told THRMOA that they were honoured to have been able to experience it.

The kura reo was also extremely fortunate that Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi were still onsite at the kura (which is adjacent to the marae) and were able to partake in several activities at the marae alongside the kura reo students.

THRMOA saw these sessions as invaluable as it showed the kura reo tauira how a kura kaupapa Māori operates and how tikanga Māori and te reo Māori play an integral role in the lives of these tamariki (children). Not only did this open their eyes to the world in which Māori operate, but it showed the legal world a side of Māori culture that they, perhaps, had not seen before. It showed the legal world that Māori continue to be rich in their identity and culture.

Manaaki and aroha

This environment of manaaki and aroha, under the umbrella of te reo Māori, continued into the sessions themselves. The 100 students made up of judges, lawyers, academics and law students were placed into four different groups based on the proficiency of their reo. From there, they were able to form relationships with others at the same level of reo and learn in an environment that was tailored specifically for them.

The interior of a traditional Maori meeting house

The sessions ranged from classroom type lectures, marae-style wānanga teaching methods and interactive teaching methods that took the students out onto the marae ātea. As well as the day-time classes, THRMOA arranged for additional activities for the students while staying at the marae.

On one of the evenings, THRMOA hosted a taupatupatu (or debate) which tackled the issue of the place of tikanga within the New Zealand legal system. This was a chance for te taha tāne (the men) to go up against te taha wāhine (the women) with each speaker having three minutes to make their points on this issue, all in te reo Māori.

To conclude the kura reo, THRMOA was privileged to host Justice Joe Williams at the marae who spoke about the history of te reo Māori in the legal system, the struggles he faced and the barriers he had to overcome prior to becoming a member of the judiciary. He also spoke about the continued struggle we face today and how we can move forward giving true recognition to te reo Māori in the law. Again, his entire lecture was in te reo Māori.

A success

THRMOA believes that the kura reo was a success and that its objectives, which were to showcase te reo Māori and the benefits that come from understanding the language, to ignite the fire of those studying and working in the law environment to take hold of te reo and all its teachings, and to integrate te reo Māori within the mahi we do and, ultimately, elevate te reo to the place that it belongs.

THRMOA has received only positive feedback from attendees and have been asked to run the course more regularly. Its success shows that people not only want this education to occur annually for the legal sector, but they also recognise there is a need for this type of teaching initiative for those working within the legal profession, particularly with Māori clients and partners.

THRMOA is extremely excited to take up that challenge and invite you all to attend the kura reo 2019 where you too can be a part of a positive change within the law.

Kia rere te reo Māori i te ao ture!


Alana Thomas alana.thomas@kaupare.co.nz is a director of Kaupare Consultancy.

Last updated on the 9th November 2018