Ūhia te reo tongarerewa.
He reo mārohirohi, he reo mōwai, he reo rangatira.
Kia tika te haere me whakatākotohia ngā kōrero ā toto.
Ko te āhuatanga nei, he uri nō te motu whānui, mai Ngā Kuri a Whārei ki Tihirau puta noa ki te hōkai nuku o Ngāti Awa te toki, te tangatanga i te rā, te ngohengohe i te wai.
Rere tititaha ki te rohe o Te Arawa, mai Maketū ki Tongariro, ngōkingōki haere ana ki Te Tāhuna o Rangataua, kia whakapāpaka au i ahau. He hononga ā toto, e kore e whati.
Takahi paru, kāwhaki pō.
Ko Te Ao Māori he ao tāwhito. Mēna i whakatipuria ai koe ki Te Ao Māori whā tekau tau ki mua, pērā i ahau, mōhio kātoa koe. Ehara i te huarahi māmā, he huarahi taumaha, i wētehi wā he huarahi whawhai. Kaore e kore he pakanga mo te reo, mo ngā tikanga, mo ngā oati a kui mā, a koro mā kia pūawai te ngākau Māori.
Kia ora tōnu haere te reo.
The rejuvenation of te reo Māori is not a new concept, it is an aspiration that stretches back the length of European history in Aotearoa.
It is a promise made by our ancestors and brought to fruition by many a march, a protest, and a dream of our people. Our nannies and koro, our mums and dads.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first tauira at the first official kōhanga reo in Tauranga Moana. My sisters and brother, our cousins – we watched our parents fight for our right to the reo. A reo that many of them knew very little of.
Collectively they wanted more for us and we were blessed that their fight and their sacrifice became our taonga, our treasured pounamu, a nurtured seed encouraged to grow.
It wasn't fashionable then. It wasn't token. It was often a battle we didn't realise we were fighting.
The introduction of quality reo into kura at that time meant hard work from parents and communities. Very few resources existed and many a late night after a long day on the power board was spent by my dad translating mainstream pukapuka into te reo so that we had books to read in our language. That is something mainstream students would never need to worry about.
There were many moments when these efforts were overlooked, and the significance of our struggle was undervalued.
Forty or so years later, we witness a surge in support for te reo from not only Māori but many cultures that live in this diverse country. We have a long way to go, but I am humbled by the many non-Māori who support us, who respect our culture and the reo we hold resolute.
As a Māori speaker, I encourage all to give it a go. Hapa (mistake) or not, I acknowledge what it takes to overcome the fear of trying something new.
My promise is that I will continue to work hard to make Aotearoa a place where te reo Māori at any level is nurtured. I cannot guarantee that I will not respectfully correct your grammar or pronunciation – Tauranga, not towel wronger, whānau.
But with open arms, we will get there.
Below is the translation of the Maori words above:
Engrave this precious language.
A resolute language, a humble language, a chiefly language.
It is correct that my whakapapa begins. It is my blessing that I stem from the length of the motu from Ngā Kuri a Whārei to Tihirau, through to Ngāti Awa of the toki (axe), the axe that loosened the sun and softened the water.
I list east to the boundaries of Te Arawa, from Maketū to Tongariro, I crawl through the shoal and sandbanks home to Rangataua, where I become the crab of my ancestors.
It is a blood bond that can never be broken. Stamping the dirt, the darkness flees.
The Māori world is an ancient world.
If you were raised in it 40 years ago like me, you will understand that it was not an easy path. It was a heavy one, and at times it was a battle, a battle for the reo, for our customs, a battle for the promises made by our kuia and koroua to instil in us a Māori identity so that our language would live on
Tania Ririnui is the education and skills co-ordinator at Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust in Pāpāmoa.