Northland man finalist in te reo Maori awards for Maori Monday initiative

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Manuel Springford is a finalist in the Maori Language Commission's annual National Maori Language Awards. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM
Manuel Springford is a finalist in the Maori Language Commission's annual National Maori Language Awards. PHOTO/MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

Since Manuel Springford started te reo Maori on Mondays five months ago he has gained confidence and is now dreaming in Maori.

Every Monday the Whangarei man has been using te reo Maori as a way of improving his knowledge of the language and promoting it.

Now he has been named a finalist in the Te Reo Maori Individual Champion section of the Maori Language Commission's annual Nga Tohu Reo Maori, the National Maori Language Awards, after he was nominated by the Northern Advocate.

"I was quite surprised. I couldn't really imagine anything like that happening just for a simple kaupapa," he said.

Mr Springford, of Te Rarawa and Ngai Tahu descent, said he started speaking te reo Maori on Mondays because he found he had nowhere to speak it after his grandfather died.

"I'm way more confident now. I speak Maori everyday and a lot of the time I speak Maori first and English second, it's just become second nature. I've been dreaming in Maori too, which I'm told is a good thing," he said.

Mr Springford said for a long time he did not know his grandfather could korero Maori.

"We were at a birthday or something and he got up and gave a bit of a mihi and I said to my mum, I didn't know he could speak Maori. So that sparked it off a little bit."

Mr Springford said he didn't grow up in the world of Maori and had never visited a marae until he was 18.

"When I first started learning that whole world was really foreign to me. I found it quite interesting learning about how my grandfather and tupuna grew up."

Mr Springford said he isn't the only one who has started speaking Maori more. His friends and whanau have also jumped on board.

"It's been awesome, everyone I'm around they try to chuck in a little kupu of te reo, more things here and there and everyone texts me in te reo Maori," he said.

The ceremony for the awards is to be hosted by the Commission and Te Reo o Taranaki, and will be held in New Plymouth on 11 November.


Why we nominated Manuel

One of the questions in the nomination form for the National Maori Language Awards asked: "What evidence is there to demonstrate that the nominee's contribution has had an impact?"

Manuel Springford was the nominee and the evidence of his contribution can be seen in the range of people who have decided to give te reo Maori a go. So the Northern Advocate decided to nominate him.

About five months ago the Whangarei man decided he would speak Maori on Mondays - no matter where he was, and te reo Maori Mondays was born.

It's a simple but effective kaupapa. By speaking Maori on Mondays his friends and whanau, and the odd baker and checkout operator, have been exposed to the language.

This has encouraged others to learn a few kupu in te reo Maori too - whether it be a surfing-related phrase or a simple greeting.

The more people we have making an effort to learn a bit of te reo Maori, the better.

To Manuel we say ka mau te wehi.

- Northern Advocate

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