Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Colourful resources make te reo Maori fun and easy to learn for kids

Tui-Kay Cole and Maria Hahipene have launched Taonga by TM. Pictured with Marley Ayshford and Mason Ayshford. Photo / Supplied
Tui-Kay Cole and Maria Hahipene have launched Taonga by TM. Pictured with Marley Ayshford and Mason Ayshford. Photo / Supplied

Looking for a uniquely Aotearoa gift for her nephews in Australia, Maria Hahipene decided to buy teaching resources that may help them learn te reo.

But when she could not find anything in stores, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

"I thought it might be cool to get them some flash cards ... with Maori stuff.

"I went out looking and I couldn't find anything. So I thought: 'Hang on a minute, I can make these'

"And when I made them, I thought: 'These are quite cool'."

Hahipene, a graphic designer, is the partner of Warriors player Blake Ayshford.

Friend Tui-Kay Cole, wife of Warriors player Jacob Lillyman, happened to see the cards one day and asked Hahipene if she could make some for her children also.

The two friends realised they were on to something and started to think about their wish for other children to learn te reo.

Just a few months later, the pair will today launch their new business venture - Taonga by TM - which offers colourful bilingual flash cards for parents and teachers wanting to teach youngsters te reo.

The sets include the Maori alphabet, te tinana - the body, nga ahua - shapes, nga tae - colours, ahua o te rangi - the weather and nga tau - numbers.

They also offer a range of Maori word art and a service that allows people to purchase personalised word art.

Cole, a primary school teacher, said the resources helped children to see, sound out and understand a certain word, colour or part of the body.

"We've kind of tried to make our resources very simple and obviously bilingual so they're easy to use.

"Everyone can read them and pronounce the words - also by the pictures, you know exactly what they are, so it's very simple, easy-to-use Maori which is interactive and fun.''

Both women admitted they had grown up not knowing te reo and were keen to teach their children - as well as their Aussie husbands.

"I suppose it was all about knowing that we haven't learnt Maori for ourselves. And then when we had our children, we obviously want them to learn Maori,'' Cole said.

"We have to learn it ourselves in order to teach them, so we thought we'd start this venture together ... and help teach everyone else as well."

Taonga by TM's products were officially launched at Waitangi Day celebrations at Okahu Bay, in Auckland, on Monday.

Tui-Kay Cole and Maria Hahipene have launched Taonga by TM, which offers educational resources to help teach te reo Maori. Photo / Supplied
Tui-Kay Cole and Maria Hahipene have launched Taonga by TM, which offers educational resources to help teach te reo Maori. Photo / Supplied

- NZ Herald

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