If te reo Māori took centre stage, the title of the show would not be "Hamlet", "A Dolls' House", or even "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". No, (said with an emphatic drawn-out voice), te reo Māori does not align in any shape, form, or colour to those plays. Te reo Māori would need a distinctive title. Nothing too fancy, daring or even hyper-spiritual. It would need to be a title that includes everybody. Nothing about haunted castles or coaxing characters to kill themselves or murder others. A title that would be understated yet forthright like "Kia ora!"
"Kia ora", most commonly known as "hello" literally means to be well, or to be alive. Yes, I think this would make a suitable title for te reo Māori in this day and age. For example "Kia ora", speaks to the longevity of life, endurance, and sustainability. Yeah, I can see it right now. It would be an action-packed story where te reo Māori would share how she survived the hardship of sub-ordination, of being silenced, of being made to feel invisible. We could focus on specific angles to spotlight a sundry of experiences and, therefore, characters.
There could be te reo Māori as a philosopher. A wise and gentle character guiding droves of people to greener pastures. What about te reo Māori as the politician driving national policies to support the greater good of multilingualism? I can even see re reo Māori as the explorer navigating space, sea, and land in a quest to disseminate new findings and understandings.
Then there could be te reo Māori the entrepreneur who puts itself on the line every day in the hope of serving those bold enough to leap into a new venture. Te reo Māori , the flamboyant artist, reconstructing ancestral narratives in multi-media linking the past, present and future as one seamless continuum, canvas by canvas, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, song by song. In my mind, this could be the greatest show - minus the emporium.
You see, te reo Māori in its own right is a rich, textured, and multi-layered expression of culture, of people, of art, and a way of being. It survives, and it thrives in abundance when it is nurtured and used on an everyday basis. This is why re reo Māori is all-encompassing when immersed in everyday reality. In this week, Te wiki o te reo Māori , I invite you to be wowed and amazed by the wonders of re reo Māori, to realise the new potential for yourself, family, and friends.
Just know, the door is always open, you only have turn the knob and take a step inside. "Kia ora" is the first step.
The second step is a personal choice. Go on, pick a character, allow yourself to be the philosopher, the explorer, the politician, the entrepreneur or even the flamboyant artist. Be bold, be brave, be a rebel, be adventurous and take centre stage at the world premiere of the first te reo Māori show produced for you and directed by us all, Aotearoa. Kia ora.
Ani-Piki Tuari, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Rongomaiwahine, Te Whānau a Apanui, Tuhoe, is an actress, a music producer, a director, an academic, a kaihaka, a writer and a lecturer of re reo Māori .
Colour me in
Parewai Pahewa Johnson, a pupil at Te Kura Kaupapa ō Te Kōtuku in Auckland, has drawn this illustration depicting te reo Māori at the heart of everything. Click here to open a larger format that can be downloaded.