The kōrero from Bill Rogers, TEU’s Te Tumu Arataki is simple, “make te reo Māori, tikanga, and Te Tiriti relationships part of every day.” Bill means it and practices what he preaches.
One of my favourite kōrero he tells about normalising te reo Māori is a van trip with tauira from his architecture class from NorthTec. When music was requested, Bill lent to turn on the radio but he began singing a waiata, “Māku rā pea.”
Or when asked by lazy tauira in class “Bill what’s the time”, he would reply “Haurua i te iwa karaka.” “Bill what is todays date”, or “Ko te rua o Hepetema” and there is always a tauira who would know what he said; and translates for other students.
Contract Administration site hui always begin and end with karakia. This approach is about infusing TEU and the tertiary education sector with a strong commitment to te reo Māori is common. Much like the 2018 kaupapa for Te wiki reo Māori – “kia kaha te reo Māori – let’s make the Māori language
strong” by talking about its health, strength and revitalisation. We are encouraged to use a word here, a phrase there, all with a gentle guiding hand.
As a Pākehā with limited te reo Māori I appreciate the awhi and tautoko of the many fluent te reo speakers in our Union. Their mahi and dedication does not go unnoticed. Their patience as I whakamātau is never ending – me mihi ka tika ki a koutou katoa.
But I agree with Bill, the tertiary education sector is a long way from truly embracing te reo Māori and mātauranga Māori.
He’s clear “we aren’t ready to tautoko the important whāinga of making te reo Māori compulsory in schools. We are in dire need of suitably qualified kaiako, lecturers, and industry experienced tutors throughout the motu.”
Bill’s views are backed up by a report released last week, which showed that we have a significant shortage of te reo Māori speaking kaiako.
The report by NZCER found that successes were fragile and “In some schools, one strong individual drove the reo Māori focus, and the school became vulnerable if that person left.”
So what is needed? Well Bill and the report’s lead author Dr Maraea Hunia, whakaaro are pretty much the same. Make sure we put our weight and kaha behind te reo Māori being a core subject, just like English and maths.
For Bill this includes our mahi as a Union, where he says we must use te reo Māori continually and not “forgetting it as we sometimes do”. So ka pai Bill and all those in TEU for normalising te reo Māori in tertiary institutions, workplaces, and the Union.
Oh I know, ka pai is a very simple phrase but my mihi is heartfelt and I’m keen to he mauri te reo Māori nō Aotearoa māu, mā tātou katoa. Ahakoa iti, ākona, kōrerotia – Learn a little, use a little.