With or without my reo,

I have always been Māori

Ramari Jackson-Paniora is the daughter of one of the main faces of the 1972 Māori Language Petition – but her relationship with te reo Māori is more complicated than people may assume.

My whānau’s journey with reo Māori is typical of many Māori whānau across Aotearoa. Looking at my parents’ achievements, it may be surprising to some that growing up, te reo Māori was not spoken in our home. There was frequent use of many kupu; everyday Māori words that have since found their way into New Zealand English, like “whānau” and “kai” were commonplace, as well as simple sentences we’d learn from mum and dad or our wider whānau.

Despite not being fluent speakers of te reo Māori we were firmly grounded in where we were from. We often spent time in our parents’ tribal areas, at the feet of our maunga Taranaki and Hikurangi, going to our awa, and staying on our marae. We also got to know our hapū and our iwi, spending quality time with our extended whānau. Identity was an important aspect of our upbringing and being whāngai added whakapapa complexities – ones my parents ensured we understood. 

Link to article: With or without my reo, I have always been Māori | The Spinoff


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