This week a new-look language symposium will be held in 'Kei te aha' country, with the aim of regenerating and retaining the unique Ngāti Porou dialect. Our reporter Te Kuru Dewes hears from one of the original Ngāti Porou cowboys, Morehu Te Maro, about his thoughts on Te Reo.
Elder Morehu Te Maro says, “In the time of the Native Schools, you would be punished if you entered the gate speaking Māori. You'd go home and tell your parents, I was punished by the teacher for speaking Māori'. You'd be punished again, 'you went there to learn the language of the Pākehā, and all of their practices'.
Years of dedicated effort and the unshakable determination of Māori towards language revitalisation has seen a great resurgence in the number of speakers and the success of intergenerational language transmission throughout the country.
In recent years, the focus has shifted towards capturing and re-generating the dialectal differences that make tribes unique.
Unprecedented in Ngāti Porou, eight local speakers will guide different facets of the symposium.
Morehu Te Maro says, “Some say one must learn to be able to write the language down, I say poor you because you can't write down your own unique language, I say the unique language of Māori, the full extent of one's own dialect, includes body language.”
The encouragement is to pursue the language, to learn it no matter what level you're at, even if you're new to it.
Te Maro says, “To maintain it, to maintain Te Reo, even though it's mixed up and not as clear (these days), the majority are speaking it, the unique dialect yes, Māori will have another new word tomorrow. But keep going, Ngāti Porou, and learn Te Reo, including the body language.”
The two-day symposium begins on Thursday at Pakirikiri marae in Tokomaru.
To attend the symposium, register for free online at Radio Ngāti Porou.