Alison Jones:

When Pākeha acquire te reo

The legendary Māori-language advocate Sir Tīmoti Kāretu says about Pākehā learning te reo: “Anyone who wants to come on board, we say: ‘Hop on the waka and let’s go. If you don’t want to, then stay on shore.’” 

Timoti’s big-hearted invitation to join the waka is being taken up with enthusiasm by Pākehā. 

Free classes in introductory Māori language are crowded, and many have waiting lists. Pākehā presenters on RNZ National make valiant, though sometimes excruciating, efforts to use the language. Māori names are now commonly used for state organisations such as Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) and Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa (the Police). The University of Auckland’s new name, gifted by Ngāti Whātua, is Waipapa Taumata Rau.

But once Pākehā are on the waka, what if they start grabbing the paddles? What if they try enthusiastically to control the direction and speed of travel, or misunderstand the task, rather than hopping in the back and quietly following orders? 

Link to article: Alison Jones: When Pākeha acquire te reo - E-Tangata


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