"I know who I am, where I come from and I'm confident to stand in this world because I know that."
These are the words of Chapman Tripp partner Te Aopare Dewes. Dewes heads the legal firm's Māori legal group, Te Waka Ture.
Dewes believes her experiences of Māori-medium education helped make her who she is today.
Dewes attended kōhanga reo then kura kaupapa Māori in Rotorua until the fourth form (year 10).
Looking back at her years at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata, the Auckland-based lawyer remembers feeling special.
"Each and every one of us was made to feel special - whatever our strengths. Whether you were a book nerd like I was or a sporty kid, whatever you were good at was celebrated.
"That was the philosophy, to acknowledge the uniqueness of each child and the positive contributions they could make to the world."
Aside from having opportunities through kura to visit places like Chile, Argentina and Tahiti, Dewes enjoyed being at the same school as her cousins and being taught by her aunt.
"The grounding I have from going through full immersion schooling is that I know who I am, where I come from and I'm confident to stand in this world because I know that."
Dewes' upbringing and education heavily influenced her career choice.
"I knew lots of people including my dad and my uncle who were lawyers doing good things for Māori communities.
"I was always aware and I am even more aware now, of the privilege I had. I'd heard all the stories about my parents and grandparents fighting for te reo to be recognised. They fought to make te reo normal for me."
The majority of Dewes' clients are Māori so she speaks the language every day.
"I can use te reo in my interactions with [my clients]. I can more quickly understand what values drive them. It is directly advantageous having had that background.
"If your definition of success is to make a positive contribution to society then my expectation is the data would show most - if not all - of the kids who have gone through Māori-medium education would meet that criteria."
Entrepreneur and educator Mataia Keepa feels like he stands on the shoulders of giants.
A student of Sir William Te Rangiua "Pou" Temara and "a member of the resurgence of te reo in the total immersion language system", Keepa has always seen the normalisation of te reo as his life's mission.
"I knew from a young age I could retain Māori words and I thought it was probably the only talent I had so I needed to capitalise on it.
"My commitment to the Māori language and culture is 25/7 purely because those who have been as fortunate as I have been feel it's our responsibility to give even more effort than the generation before us."
Keepa is grateful to his mother for deciding to send him to kōhanga reo.
"My mother probably had to confront some criticisms for that. I was oblivious to it. All I knew was the Māori world and the Māori language and I thought it was odd when people didn't speak te reo."
Keepa is the founder and primary consultant of iKorero Language Consultancy. The company provides businesses with translation services and assistance in building cultural understanding. Keepa also champions the revival of ceremonies like the Matariki umu kohukohu whetū.
iKorero's clients include the Royal New Zealand Navy, UNESCO and TVNZ. Keepa is also working with sports commentators at Sky TV.
"They seem to show great promise with regards to where New Zealand is going and their attitudes towards learning. I have a lot of hope for the future because of them."
Keepa's advice for anyone beginning the journey of learning te reo is: Persevere.
"Not everybody starts off an expert. Once upon a time Shakespeare had a teacher. Once upon a time Shakespeare made mistakes.
"You need to find your why. When times get tough you are always going to have to return to that."