New Te Reo Māori graduates intent on 'te reo o te kāinga'

By Raniera Harrison

The advancement of the regional dialect is at the forefront for the new wave of skilled Māori orators emerging from the North.

"Our people see the value in learning to the highest levels, you know, it's now not enough to [just] acquire the language," says Northern Regional Director for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Bernard Te Paa.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa hosted their annual Autumn graduation ceremony at Toll Stadium, Whangarei today.

Mr. Te Paa says that an estimated 200 students across numerous disciplines were in attendance.  However, the actual number of graduands today was more in the vicinity of 500- half of the students present having affiliations to the numerous kapa haka around the region.

"Don't leave it just for on stage.  Our customs, our language, our treasures.  Bring them in to our homes," says Ross Smith, a long-time exponent of traditional Māori weaponry in Northland.

Such comments have gained support from the Te Tai Tokerau regional delegate on the Te Matatini executive board, Pauline Hopa.

"To be seen- for us all to hear the language everywhere.  Schools, households, the workplace, and all public spaces of the region," says Ms. Hopa- herself graduating today after successfully completing the Te Pīnakitanga Ki Te Reo Kairangi course through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

As at the 2013 Census, 9.1% of Northlanders spoke Te Reo Māori and although statistics from the latest census are yet to be calculated, these graduates believe that number will rise.

"The language will be revitalised.  However, the Māori worldview is the most important thing - in that if it perishes, it may never return," says head tutor of the Te Pīnakitanga Ki Te Reo Kairangi course in the Northland region, Moana-Aroha Henry.