Kōhanga is like another home for Hana Park's tamariki.

"They're happy being here ... everything they do here, we do at home," she said.

Park's children Rokomai, 4, and Hinemāia,1, both attend Whangārei's Te Kōhanga Reo o Raumanga Kōhungahunga.

Park did not grow up with te reo Māori but decided to learn it after looking into her mother's whakapapa (genealogy).

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"I went to tertiary (education) to learn te reo and once I started learning I didn't want to go back to English so I stuck with Māori.

"While I was learning, it was like a door opened up inside of myself and I could really see how our ancestors thought and that's what really drew me in," she said.


Park said it was important that her children grow up speaking te reo Māori and was grateful for kōhanga.

Hana Park says her tamariki Hinemāia, 1, and Rokomai, 4, are happy at Te Kōhanga Reo o Raumanga Kōhungahunga. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Hana Park says her tamariki Hinemāia, 1, and Rokomai, 4, are happy at Te Kōhanga Reo o Raumanga Kōhungahunga. Photo / Michael Cunningham

"We speak Māori at home and I wanted somewhere they could go and speak Māori, and also have conversations with their friends in te reo Māori. I like how kohanga is run, they can grow up in our Māori world."

Park said there is a lot of aroha, wairua and manaakitanga at kōhanga.

"I have a lot of gratitude for kōhanga and for the kids being in kōhanga. They're able to find their own path within te reo Māori and that's what I like.

"They benefit from tikanga Māori. They benefit spiritually, physically, emotionally from our tikanga, and our language is part of that. They are able to know who they are in this world."

Park said she sees those benefits in her children's happiness.

"Kōhanga is like another home to them," she said.

"The tikanga that the tamariki are taught at kōhanga - like you don't put your feet on the table, you don't sit on the table, table is for kai only or mahi - I implement that in my home as well."

The theme for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is "Kia kaha te reo Māori" and it is all about strengthening the language.

Park said one way of doing that was to invest more money so teachers, whānau and those who are wanting to learn te reo could upskill themselves to the highest degree.

"So we're not just sitting in an average place, or just a few words sprinkled here and there, but we're actually investing and growing people," she said.