Rie Morris wouldn't be who she is without te reo Māori.
The Rotorua wahine (Te Arawa, Tūhoe, Ngāpuhi, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāi te Rangi) and Rotorua Boys' High School head of faculty Māori sees her language as such a vital part of her life.
She chooses to be surrounded by te reo Māori at work, home and play.
This week's Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori theme of Kia Kaha te Reo Māori - Let's make the Māori Language Strong, is something Morris lives by every day, instilling it in her friends, students and daughter.
"My grandmother was [fluent] so, with the knowledge of te reo Māori she had, she taught me.
"Unfortunately, that knowledge bypassed my mother and her siblings because my grandmother and grandfather, who were caned for speaking the language, were apprehensive about teaching them te reo for fear the same could happen to them.
"But there was a deliberate decision made to place me in kohanga reo, and my grandmother spoke te reo Māori to me."
Morris' passion for her culture, in particular, te reo Māori and kapa haka, was evident from an early age and ultimately became a life-long passion.
"The biggest thing for me is that on a personal level, [kapa haka] was a connection to my grandmother, whom I adore and miss dearly.
"Kapa haka means the world to me; it would be my passion. And of course te reo Māori because without te reo Māori you don't have kapa haka.
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"More than performing myself, I absolutely love watching our young ones perform. They ignite the fire that is in my belly for kapa haka. When I watch them, I am in awe of what they do and it makes me feel proud to be Māori.
"Kapa haka is a way I can acknowledge the beauty of our culture, of our language. That it is rich, beautiful and is worth celebrating."
With that passion, there was no doubt when Morris fell pregnant that she would raise her child in te reo Māori.
"My daughter is schooled in a kura-a-iwi; she was a kohanga baby as well and there were no two ways about it, she was going to be in kohanga and kura kaupapa or kura-a-iwi."
But it's not just Morris' personal life that is shaped by her culture. In her job at Rotorua Boys' High School, she encourages students to converse in te reo Māori.
"Everyday at school, although I speak a lot of English, I am a stickler for only speaking te reo Māori to my students who I know speak the language."
While the use of her language comes naturally, it hasn't escaped Morris' attention how many people are in awe of hearing fluent te reo Māori spoken in casual settings.
"What I hear often is: 'Oh, I love hearing you speak Māori', 'I want to learn more, how do I say this?' 'What was it you were saying?' Especially if my daughter and I are talking Māori or there are a group of kids speaking Māori. People are in awe of the little ones speaking te reo fluently."
Morris believes this is a step in the right direction to making te reo Māori more integrated into everyday life.
"[Society] needs to realise the value and mana of te reo Māori. It's an integral part of who we are as a people. It is our job, our responsibility, to make sure it is living and it's thriving.
"I'd like to think my manner is such that it's not going to make someone scared to speak to me in te reo Māori, with or without errors. For me, something is always better than nothing."
She also wonders whether making te reo Māori compulsory in schools is the next step in revitalising the language.
"We at Raukura have moved in the direction of having te reo Māori as a core subject at Year 9 and we're moving in the same direction for Year 10s next year. Our young men are coming to us for te reo Māori three times a week as opposed to the former one hour a week in tikanga, it's a huge move for any mainstream school.
"Is that the next step for us as a country? For Raukura - Rotorua Boys' High School - that was the next step and we have been well supported by our young men and their whānau."
Morris believes the resurgence of te reo Māori is on an upturn and the consensus among Māori families is they don't want their children to lose out on what they lost out on.
"We have a lot more kura kaupapa Māori and kura-a-iwi and Māori immersion or bilingual units in mainstream schools. There are more options for our whānau where our children's education is concerned and that's great."
Living and breathing te reo Māori was never a choice for Morris, it was a necessity and one she hopes to pass on to the next generations, keeping alive the culture and language she loves so much.
"I don't know what I would be like if I didn't speak te reo Māori, it shapes who I am. It makes me who I am as a Māori, as a wahine Māori, as a Te Arawa woman. It makes me Rie."