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Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Maori Language Week 2016: Te reo calls to give an edge in Rio

Kayla Whitelock's first Olympics, in Athens in 2004, was also the first Games to incorporate a strong element of te reo Maori. Photo / Getty Images
Kayla Whitelock's first Olympics, in Athens in 2004, was also the first Games to incorporate a strong element of te reo Maori. Photo / Getty Images

When the women's Black Sticks take to the hockey turf in Rio next month, they will have a special advantage.

All their team calls will be in te reo Māori.

"It's words that we understand and other countries don't," said veteran team member Kayla Whitelock, 30.

"I think everyone embraced it. [Player] Piki Hamahona was involved, she could speak fluent Māori so she was kind of creating some of our words.

"So yeah, it's pretty special, obviously being Māori and to have Māori calls throughout our group and in the way we play," said Whitelock.

It was the team's Australian-born coach, Mark Hager, who introduced elements of te reo into the team after he took the coaching job in 2008.

Whitelock's first Olympics at Athens in 2004, when she was just 18, was also the first Games to incorporate a strong element of te reo Māori.

The late Ngāti Porou kaumātua Amster Reedy guided the NZ team to adopt a Māori cloak for the team's flag-bearer, pounamu (greenstone) pendants for all the athletes and a "mauri stone" carrying the spirit of the ancestors.

"Everyone rubs it and it gives off energy to us," Whitelock said. "You see every day the athletes walking into the main area rubbing this stone as they leave the village."

This year's Māori Language Week theme, Ākina te Reo (Urge on the language), is about using te reo to urge on New Zealand's Olympic athletes with phrases such as Kia kaha e hoa mā (Let's go team).

Whitelock's father, Phillip, comes from a Māori-speaking whānau from the Rangitāne iwi and has taken his children to events at their home marae at Motuiti, on State Highway 1 just north of Foxton.

She and her husband, former Crusaders and All Blacks player George Whitelock - brother of rugby stars Luke and Sam Whitelock - and their 1-year-old daughter, Addison, live next-door to George's parents on the family dairy farm near Palmerston North.

They are close to Trevor Shailer, a former Olympic boxer of Ngāti Hauiti/Ngāti Kauwhata/Ngāti Raukawa descent who is now chief executive of Sport Manawatu and deputy head of the NZ Olympic mission.

"Trevor does a really good job of bringing the culture within the group," said Whitelock.
"At every Games you get a pounamu and at the start of every tournament they have a video of the culture and where the greenstone was made, which is pretty cool.

"There's only 200 athletes or whatever and you each have a part of that culture, which is pretty special."

She will have her whole whānau behind her - assuming she will be named in the Black Sticks women's team for Rio on Thursday for her fourth Olympic Games.

As well as her husband and daughter, her parents, sisters and brother are travelling to Brazil to back her.

The whānau will stay in a hotel while Kayla stays in the Olympic village, but they will keep in touch.

"I think the NZ Olympic Committee has organised a New Zealand House close to the village where you can meet up with everyone."

Piki Hamahona. Photo / Greg Bowker
Piki Hamahona. Photo / Greg Bowker

Translation

Kia eke rawa ngā wāhine Rākau Pango ki runga i te papa tākaro hōkī ki Rio ā te marama e heke mai nei, he hautoa kē tō rātou.

Ko ā rātou karanga tīma katoa kei roto kē i te reo Māori.

"He kupu e mōhio ana mātou, kāore i te aro i whenua kē," e ai ki te tautōhito nei o te tīma a Kayla Whitelock, e 30 ōna tau.

"Ki taku mōhio kei te tautoko mai te katoa. Ko (kaitākaro) Piki Hamahona rā tētahi, he matatau a ia ki te reo Māori ā nāna noa nā i hanga haere ētahi o ā mātou kupu. Nā reira, āe, he rawe nā te mea he Māori hoki ka mutu he kupu karanga Māori puta noa i tō mātou rōpū me tō mātou āhua tākaro anō hoki."

Nā te kaiako kē o te tīma nā Mark Hager i whānau kē mai rā i Ahitereiria, nāna kē i whakauru mai ētahi āhuatanga o te reo ki roto i te tīma nō tana ekenga ki te tūranga kaiako i te tau 2008.

Ko ngā kēmu Ōrimipia tuatahi i tae atu ai a Whitelock ko tērā i Ātene i te tau 2004, he 18 noa ana tau, koirā hoki Ngā Kēmu tuatahi i hau ai te uru o te reo Māori. Nā tērā kaumātua o Ngāti Porou, nā Amster Reedy i ārahi te tīma o Aotearoa ki te whakarite korowai Māori mō te kaihāpai haki o te tīma, he whakakai pounamu hoki mō ia kaitākaro, ā, he "kōwhatu mauri" anō hoki e kawe ana i te wairua o ngā tūpuna.

"Ka miria e te katoa ka pā mai ai tōna wairua," te kī a Whitelock. "Ka kite koe ia rā ko ngā kaitākaro e hīkoi ana ki te ātea ka mirimiri i te kōwhatu ka wehe atu ana rātou i te kāinga."
Ko te kaupapa o Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori i tēnei tau ko Ākina te Reo, arā mā te reo Māori kē tātou akiaki ai i ngā toa tākaro Ōrimipia o Aotearoa me ngā rerenga kōrero pēnei nā Kia kaha e hoa mā (Let's go team).

Ko Phillip te pāpā o Whitelock nō tētahi whānau kōrero Māori o Rangitāne, nāna hoki ana tamariki i whakahoki ki ngā kaupapa i tō rātou marae kāinga o Motuiti, kei te Huarahi Matua nama 1 whakateraki tonu o Te Awahou.

Kei runga kē i te pāmu miraka kau o te whānau o tana tāne kei te takiwā ki Pāmutana rātou ko tana tāne kaitākaro Crusaders o mua, Ōpango hoki ko George Whitelock - te tuakana o ngā whetū whutupōro nei o Luke rāua ko Sam Whitelock - ko tā rāua tamāhine Addison kotahi tau noa, e noho pātata ana ki ngā mātua o George.

E tata atu ana rātou ki tō Trevor Shailer, tērā toa mekemeke Ōrimipia o mua nō Ngāti Hauiti/Ngāti Kauwhata/Ngāti Raukawa, e mahi ana rā ināianei hei tumuaki mō Sport Manawatū, hei tumuaki tuarua anō hoki mō te tira Ōrimipia o Aotearoa.

"He tino toa a Trevor ki te tō mai i ngā tikanga ahurea ki roto i te rōpū," e ai ki a Whitelock.

"Ka whiwhi pounamu koe ia taenga atu ki Ngā Kēmu, ā, hei te tīmatanga o ia tōnamana he whakaata irirangi mō te ahurea tonu me te ahunga mai hoki o te pounamu, ka wani kē. E 200 noa iho rānei ngā kaitākaro ka whiwhi te katoa ki tēnei tikanga ahurea he āhuatanga whakahirahira hoki tērā."

Ko tana whānau katoa tēnā kei muri e tautoko ana - tērā anō ia ka whakahuangia ki roto i te tīma wāhine Rākau Pango mō Rio ā te Tāite mō tana Kēmu Ōrimipia tuawhā.

I tua atu i tana tāne me tana tamāhine, ko ōna mātua ērā, ko ōna teina, ko tōna tungāne hoki tērā e haere ana ki Parīhi ki te tautoko i a ia.

Ka noho hōtera te whānau engari anō a Kayla ka noho kē ki te kāinga Ōrimipia, engari ka torotoro tonu rātou.

"Ki taku mōhio kua whakaritea e te Komiti Ōrimipia o Aotearoa he Whare mō Aotearoa e tata ana ki te kāinga nā hei wāhi tūtakitaki ai te katoa," e ai ki tāna.

Te Reo Māori translation service supported by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

- NZ Herald

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