Irish scholar visits home of te reo

By Mikaela Collins -
2 comments
Aoife Finn, an Irish PhD student who has been studying te reo Maori, visited Whangarei's Te Wananga o Aotearoa campus as part of her first visit to the country, sponsored by the education provider. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Aoife Finn, an Irish PhD student who has been studying te reo Maori, visited Whangarei's Te Wananga o Aotearoa campus as part of her first visit to the country, sponsored by the education provider. Photo / Michael Cunningham

When Irish scholar Aoife Finn came across a book titled Maori in a library in Ireland, she was instantly hooked. She has studied the language for years, despite having never visited the country where it's spoken.

Now the 31-year-old from Dundalk, about an hour from Dublin, is finally in New Zealand and was at Whangarei's Te Wananga o Aotearoa campus yesterday as part of her visit, which has been sponsored by the tertiary education provider.

She arrived in Whangarei on Sunday night and is staying with a staff member from Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

I was just amazed. I'd never seen anything like it.
Aoife Finn, Irish PhD student on discovering te reo Maori

"It's fabulous, it's stunning ... the scenery and the Brynderwyns - going up it for a start with the twisty, bendy roads and the foliage.

"Then coming down when you can see Whangarei from a distance is beautiful."

Ms Finn was studying for a master's degree at Trinity College in Dublin when she came across Winifred Bauer's 1993 book, Maori.

"I was doing an assignment for my syntax class. I was flicking through what we call reference grammars and I picked up that book, and I was just amazed. I'd never seen anything like it."

She said she was initially interested in the look of te reo Maori and then discovered that it had "many wonderful syntactic features".

"I was hooked. I did my assignment on te reo, and did quite well, so I decided to do my dissertation on te reo Maori as well - I didn't really consider any other language to look at."

Ms Finn arrived in New Zealand on Saturday and was given a traditional welcome on to Owairaka Rawhitiroa Marae in Te Awamutu, where she did some weaving.

She said after studying te reo Maori for so long, it was fabulous to be fully immersed in Maori culture, something before now she had only seen in books and on computer screens.

"This trip is a dream come true. It allows me to hear Maori being spoken and it allows me to dip my feet in and try to speak some myself. I would try to watch videos and YouTube but the problem was, I repeated it and thought I was getting it right, but when you're with [native] speakers, there might be a subtlety with the sound they can correct."

Ms Finn said she hoped her visit would bring attention to te reo Maori and encourage more people to learn the language.

For more articles from this region, go to

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 08 Dec 2016 02:52:05 Processing Time: 669ms