My journey with te reo Māori Part 2

Driven by my own interest in learning languages and being a committed Facilitator at Tātai Angitu, which is part of a Tiriti led University, last year I enrolled in Te Ara Reo Māori (level 1& 2), a course run by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, to study the Māori language and enhance my language competency. The one-year course constituted of a three-hour face to face class every week, a one-day wananga every two months, and four noho Marae. For me, the language course offered a dynamic and organic way of learning with face-to-face sessions complimented by an online anytime, anywhere learning space, ‘Akorau’. I enjoyed my course to such an extent that even while holidaying in India, I attended a couple of classes through Zoom. The entire course was well resourced with study materials, interesting quiz/kahoot sessions, and interactive activities aimed at enhancing the language.

As a person who thrives on social contact and kōrero, the kanohi ki te kanohi experience was the most influential aspect in helping me to learn the language. At the beginning of the course, I was a bit apprehensive of my own competencies and capabilities of learning the language in a classroom space with other tauira. However, as the year proceeded, I was comfortable with my classmates and my Matua, and found the class a safe space to unpack my own understandings of te reo Māori and explore more avenues.

At the end of this language course, I see myself humbled by the long road of learning ahead of me. If you ask me what I learnt so far, I will reply with a quote from my mother tongue Tamil- “கற்றது கைமண் அளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு”, “Katrathu Kai Mann Alavu, Kallathathu Ulagalavu”, meaning, what I have learnt is a mere a handful, what I haven’t learnt is the size of the world. After completing this Level 1&2 Māori language course I have come to the realisation that while it is great to have made a beginning, it is vital to keep persevering to practise what I have learnt and keep the journey of learning ongoing. I have realised that the measure of growth does not really matter – it may be small steps in the language learning journey or a giant leap, but the important factor is to keep the momentum going, keep doing. As Pere (2011, p. 107) says, “If you are operating from your own power and your own wisdom, and you are responding to gaps as they appear, you can’t have plans or strategies, you have got to adapt as you do it. If you stop to think about some strategy or strategic plan, by the time you get into that, the tornados torn through the place!”

I have miles to go, and I must keep going, but I am reminded through this whakatauki that while seeking distant horizons, I must also cherish my achievements. “Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tina”.

This is me for now, with my updates on my te reo Māori journey. Ka kite ano e te whānau!

Pere, R. (2011). Standing in my own power. In K. Irwin, C. Tuuta & S. Maclean (Eds.), Mātiro Whakamua: Looking over the horizon. Wellington, New Zealand: Families Commission.

Sujatha Gomathinayagam

13 June 2023

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