Mai rānō – Way back when…

Nau mai e ngā hua o te wao
o te ngakina
o te wai tai
o te wai Māori
Nā Tāne
Nā Rongo
Nā Tangaroa
Nā Maru
Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei
Tūturu whakamaua kia tina
Tina, haumi ē, hui ē, tāiki ē!

Welcome the gifts of food,
from the sacred forests,
from the cultivated gardens,
from the sea,
from the fresh waters.
The food of Tāne,
of Rongo,
of Tangaroa,
of Maru. 
I acknowledge Ranginui above me,
Papatūānuku who lies beneath. 
Let this be my commitment to them all!

Janna with some ponga ferns

Growing up in the 60s the tamariki in my whānau worked alongside our mum and dad. Together we worked on our market gardens in Tāmaki Makaurau. West Auckland. Every day, rain, hail or shine the whole whānau would be out there, doing our bit. Mahi Māra. Working in the garden.

Dad would rise at 4am and start his mahi for the day. We’d watch him spray with water the packed produce in their wooden apple boxes. Then he’d lift the load onto the small wooden deck of our taraka. A tiny Morris Minor 1000. After parakuihi – breakfast, we’d scramble aboard, each choosing an apple box to ride within. Dad would light his ciggie and settle in behind the drivers’ wheel. While the rest of the world was still sleeping we’d fly through the streets on our trusty wooden steeds towards the tense and bustling world of the early morning markets. Turner’s and Growers. Downtown Auckland.

I can still hear the screech of the karoro and tarāpunga as they greeted the fishing boats. Just like me, the gulls delighted in the early morning commotion. He kanohi kitea te karawhiu. To see their little faces every morning was the norm.

After the morning’s auctions we would return home to get ready for school, perhaps with a box of apples, bananas or oranges, sometimes even a crate of watermelon. All kai was shared with our whānau whānui, our extended whānau. The māra was our life, we lived according to the seasons and according to how well our produce sold.

Dad, being an immigrant from Naples, Italy, grew exotic huawhenua. Vegetables such as Capsicum, Spinach, Aubergine, Italian Parsley, Radish, Globe Artichoke, Acid Free Italian tomatoes, Basil, Garlic. He even harvested the marrows before they grew to their full size. Unheard of in those days, we now have a name for immature marrows. Courgettes. Occasionally, for lunch, dad would snap a few flowers off the marrow plant, heat some olive oil in our dinged up fry pan and after sautéing garlic he would add the beautiful yellow flowers for 2-3 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt. Courgette Napolitano style! Kai tino pai!

Mum, on the other hand, introduced us to kaimoana. We never went hungry with the bountiful Waitematā Harbour on our back doorstep. In the weekends or after school, up onto the tray of our taraka, along with e toru ngā kuri, our three dogs Sookie, Andy and Prince, us kids would jump and off to the beach we’d head. No problem if we forgot our kete. Plenty of harakeke growing on the side of the road. If need be, we’d pull over beside a flax bush and mum would whip up a kete to carry our kaimoana. Pipi, Toheroa , Kina, Kūtai, Pūpū,Tio repe. Sometimes we’d take a line and catch a tāmure or two. In those days the sea was clean and kaimoana was abundant. On the way home we’d stop again for a dose of Kawakawa. No one escaped chewing and swallowing the bitter green medicinal leaf.

Janna’s cat Buddy supervises some peastraw.

These memories, although more than fifty years old, are part of the essence that informs my love of gardening today. Ia rā, ia rā, everyday I garden with my cat Buddy. My love of the sea and all that resides within it is tino hōhonu. Deep and profound.

For those of you who love gardening as well, check out our seed swap

Try browsing these lists of my favourite Mahi Māra and Rongoā Māori pukapuka!

Janna Russo,
Network Library Assistant

Celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with Tuhinga Pikitia – Te Reo Māori Picture Books

Some people might say they’re just here for the kai, but I would say I’m just here for the tuhinga pikitia*. I love picture books, I really do. A good picture book is a work of art.

9780143502838One of my all-time favourite picture books is Kei Te Pēhea Koe? by Tracy Duncan. I love it because the illustrations are so evocative, just one look at the picture for “makariri” makes me shiver, and there’s no mistaking how hungry the little girl on the “matekai” page feels. The words are in both Māori and English which is great for people like me, who aren’t fluent in te reo.

9781775430117Another favourite of mine is Ngā kahumoe o te ngeru by Catherine Foreman. I remember the first time I read this book, when it came through the returns slot one quiet evening at Fendalton Library. The cat looked so sweet, tucked up in bed with his colourful pjs and his cuddly little rabbit, that I had to read it, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t understand a word. This is a lovely story, about a cat who wears a different pair of pyjamas each night, which inspire wonderful dreams…but when he wears his MONSTER pyjamas — well you can guess what happens! I understood all of this, just from the pictures. Because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I enjoy the English version too, but somehow, when I read it, it doesn’t seem quite as magical as that time I “read” the te reo version.

9781775432968Just the other week, I discovered a beautiful new favourite — Hush by Joy Cowley. This is a kiwi version of the classic lullaby, beautiful illustrated by Andrew Burdan. When Miss Missy was a baby, I used to sing Hush Little Baby to her, but I couldn’t remember the words properly, and made up my own version — I wish this book had been around then! Joy Cowley is much better than I am at making up words! The te reo translation is at the back of the book — I think it’s a shame the two languages aren’t together on the same page, but still, it’s a lovely book, and a beautiful song to share with your tamariki.

9780473201791If you like waiata, then Sharon Holt is worth keeping an eye out for. She has lots of te reo titles, which include CDs to sing along with, which is a great way to learn the reo. Kei te Peke Ahau is lots of fun, with all the rere, peke, and pakipaki  (flying, jumping, and clapping). Each page has a different animal and action to do, ending up with e moe pēpi — sleeping like a baby (not an animal, I know…unless it’s jungle hour, then babies are definitely animals).

9780473331504Speaking of pēpi, it is the beautiful illustrations of pēpi and tamariki in Kanohi by Kitty Brown that make this book. This bilingual pukapuka is full of gorgeous, cheeky kids, with text in both te Reo and English. I can’t quite make up my mind if my favourite is the taringa picture or the ngutu one. This series of board books are perfect if you want to teach your tamariki a little bit of te Reo, or maybe learn a bit yourself. In fact, it was Kitty Brown’s desire to reconnect with her reo that prompted her to write the books. You can read more about this in our interview with her.

If you want more ideas for ways to share te Reo with your tamariki, then check out our page of resources

During te Wiki o te Reo Maori, we’ll have Storytimes with te reo Māori at all our libraries.

*The food is pretty good too. OK, I’m actually just here for the food AND the picture books!

30 years on, how far has the revitalisation of te Reo Māori come?

30 years ago, on the 1st August 1987, the New Zealand Government passed the Māori Language Act 1987 making Te Reo Māori an official language of New Zealand. While this should be celebrated, it is worth noting that it took 127 years for the indigenous language of this Country to be formally recognised by the Crown.

I had initially planned in this blog to recount the various ways that the speaking of te Reo Māori was suppressed over those 127 years. I was going to outline the various Crown policies and laws that were implemented to ensure that the language was suppressed and literally ‘beaten’ out of Māori. Laws such as Native Schools Act 1867 that enforced the non-speaking of te Reo Māori in public spaces, in particularly schools.

I had intended to remind people that “It takes one generation to lose a language and at least three to restore it”. Thus given my previous statement it is no wonder that te Reo Māori was in a complete state of decline by the late 20th century, beginning the proactive movement to rejuvenate and revitalise te Reo Māori within all aspects of our lives.

But that all changed on Saturday morning while watching a video post from a prominent te Reo Māori tutor.  He, along with his whānau, was abused in their local supermarket in their hometown for speaking Māori to each other. The tutor and his partner had made the decision to raise their children in te Reo Māori. Therefore, by their own choice, they speak Māori to their children and around their children wherever they are.

Imagine while talking among themselves, their shock being confronted by an irate woman telling them in a loud aggressive voice “this is New Zealand, we speak English here not that gibberish!” Aware of their children, they thanked the woman for her opinion and continued on with their shopping. A few minutes later, while the son was speaking to his mother in te Reo Māori, the woman started to mock the boy, telling him to speak English, the real language of this country. Naturally the parents interjected, politely rose above it, collected their children and shopping and left.

Naturally I was angry and sickened that someone would do this to a child.  But more importantly, I was sad and disappointed that in this day and age there are still people with these antiquated views.  We might be an educated and progressive society, but for some people it’s still 1867.

But don’t be disheartened. When we measure the tangible achievements of the last 30 years, we clearly see how far the revitalisation of te Reo Māori has come. How well this rejuvenation has worked:

  • Te Reo Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand, is recognised as an official language of New Zealand and with this the right to speak it anywhere and at anytime;
  • Kōhanga Reo and Māori Early Childhood Centres;
  • Kura Kaupapa, Kaupapa Māori special character schools, bilingual units;
  • Iwi rejuvenation programmes such as Kotahi Mano Kaika, Hāpai i te reo;
  • Tertiary degrees in te Reo Māori, ōna tikanga me ngā ahurea Māori;
  • The ability to write your University thesis in te Reo Māori;
  • A week long total immersion wānanga known as Kura Reo;
  • Whare wānanga;
  • Incorporation of te Reo Māori in some work spaces particularly government offices;
  • Some bilingual signage and dual names;
  • two television channels – one totally in Māori;
  • 21 iwi radio stations and a further 5 kaupapa Māori focused stations with te Reo Māori segments;
  • An agency dedicated to supporting te Reo Māori aspirations known as Te Taura Whiri;
  • A National committee of te Reo Māori Champions know as Te Mātāwai, tasked with assisting with te Reo Māori aspirations;
  • Te Reo Māori books, Facebook pages, apps and electronic resources;
  • A course dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in te Reo Māori me ōna tikanga – Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori;
  • A week where the whole nation ‘celebrates’ the Māori language;
  • A social experiment for the month of September when those who speak Māori choose to speak only Māori throughout that month on a nominated day, week or for the entire month;
  • Presenters on ‘mainstream’ television use more te Reo Māori than ever and that’s just the Pākehā ones! More te Reo Māori is being normalised through every day use.
  • Te Ture mō te Reo Māori 2016 the first and only legislation written in te Reo Māori – not just translated.

Ah yes we have come a long way in 30 years, we do have much to celebrate.  But imagine how much more we could have achieved if we, as a nation, had embraced te Reo Māori 127 years ago. All New Zealanders would be bilingual for starters. There would be no need to repair 127 years of attempted cultural and language genocide. All New Zealanders would know the true history of their country. We would perform (properly) more than one haka for all occasions – and understand them. We would all sing both versions of the National anthem. These are just some of the things WE could have done. But we didn’t do that and now we are where we are.

Sadly haters are always going to hate.  What happened to that young Māori whānau the other Friday night vocalised thoughts born of ignorance and fear of the unknown. This an evolution people, not a revolution. Yes this might be New Zealand and we might speak English here, but the indigenous language is Māori. A language I, like that young whānau, are proud to reclaim as our birthright. Learn it, live it, love it!

So, 30 years on how far has the revitalisation of te Reo Māori come I ask? Well, a lot further than some expected, but considering that incident in a large supermarket in Hastings, perhaps not as far as most of us would have hoped.

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Wheowheo ana te haere!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Wheowheo ana te haere!
They went at full speed!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Koirā!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Koirā!
Yes, that’s the one!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Mau mau ana!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Mau mau ana!
Caught! Nabbed!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Purere ana te oma!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Purere ana te oma!
Ran like a flash!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Kotahi atu ki te paepiro!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Kotahi atu ki te paepiro!
Straight to the try line!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Kaua e mate wheke mate ururoa!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Kaua e mate wheke mate ururoa!
Don’t die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead shark!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Karohia te hoariri!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Karohia te hoariri!
Dodge the opponent!

akina te reo rugby