Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick knows the value of te reo Maori to the community having spent a year learning the language.
She and husband John enrolled in a Te Wananga o Aotearoa course last year before she officially took up the role of mayor. Mrs Chadwick and the council are celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Maori - Maori Language Week- this week.
"If I'm honest I struggled with the commitment every Monday night, both John and I are busy and we didn't always get around to our homework. As the year went by, we tried hard to do the mahi. We learnt so much of the kawa [customs] and reo [language] and meaning behind the words," she said.
"I loved the culture of the wananga, you could make mistakes and laugh at it, you can self-correct and just have a go. I loved the noho marae [marae stay], I got to say my pepeha [tribal belonging speech] and I was shaking. I'm not nervous about anything but was terrified of standing up and doing it."
Mrs Chadwick often welcomed people to council events in te reo Maori which is prepared by council director of Maori issues, Mauriora Kingi.
"People understand that you've taken the time to show respect by trying to really get your head around the way things are said. Mauriora often writes something for me to say and it's always beautifully poetic.
"John and I both knew how important te reo is for us connecting with our community. "We didn't realise what came out of us learning was that our family were excited and in particular our grandchildren."
The Rotorua District Library is hosting various events to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Maori. These include waiata and poi performance this afternoon from 2pm by Rotorua Girls' High School, a workshop on how to construct a Maori sentence with John Foster and performances by Selwyn Primary and Rotorua Primary Schools.