Iwi warns of 'bleak' state of te reo

By Rebekah Philson

2 comments
Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated's director of te reo, tikanga and matauranga, Jeremy Tatere MacLeod, is combatting the lack of te reo in his community.
Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated's director of te reo, tikanga and matauranga, Jeremy Tatere MacLeod, is combatting the lack of te reo in his community.

Hawke's Bay's Maori Facebook users are being confronted with the "bleak" state of te reo in a new series of videos from the local iwi.

Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc have released the first of 12 monthly Facebook videos as part of their Kahungunu, kia eke! Ngati Kahungunu Maori Language Strategy.

The series is part of a language revitalisation movement led by Jeremy Tatere MacLeod, the iwi's director of te reo, tikanga and matauranga.

The first 30-second clip, released on Monday to kick off the start of Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week), showed a marae that had to rely on a pre-recorded karanga for its greeting.

The series aims to highlight "the blunt, harsh, bleak reality of the dire state of language in the tribe", Mr MacLeod said.

"In a very short amount of time, te reo could be extinct."

In conceiving the videos, he challenged himself to find a use for te reo in everyday life.

"The language has a sentimental value. The language has a cultural value, but how do we create relevance to the use of tomorrow?"

While he applauded the efforts of Maori Language Week, Mr MacLeod said he thought the language deserved more prominence.

"I look forward to a Maori language month, to a Maori language year."

The Kahungunu, kia eke! strategy efforts are focused on the iwi's own people, with the aim of te reo being the primary language spoken in its community by 2027.

The director said language revitalisation was particularly important for Ngati Kahungunu as they were one of the first tribes to suffer language losses.

"The language was all but decimated in the early 1900s."

He said this early language loss had resulted in an "inter-generational resistance". He also noted that it was hard to prioritise learning a second language as "tricky" as te reo.

"A lot of our people don't have time. People are struggling to stay afloat ... learning a second language automatically falls down the list."

Mr MacLeod grew up in Australia and had no knowledge of the reo until he learnt it at age 17 at Hawke's Bay's Eastern Institute of Technology.

He said it only took three ingredients to learn te reo: "Time, commitment, and passion."

He hoped that this latest promotion would show his iwi's people the worth of learning the "endangered" language.

"We are trying to hit our people's hearts, were trying to hit our people's consciousness."

Proverb:

* Korerotia to reo kia rangona ai tona ataahua. (Speak your language so its beauty may be heard.)

- Hawkes Bay Today

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