Sleeps Standing / Moetū by Witi Ihimaera

“E hoa, ka whawhaitonu mātou, ake, ake, ake!”

“Friend, I shall fight against you for ever, for ever!”

Sleeps Standing / Moetū (Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly)

CoverKia ora readers. What a coup for Te wiki o te Reo Māori this book is.

A bilingual text in Māori and English, Sleeps Standing / Moetū is written by Witi Ihimaera (Te Whānau a Kai, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Tuhoe, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou) and translated into Te Reo Māori by Hēmi Kelly (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa).

Sleeps Standing / Moetū tells the story of the last battle of the Waikato Wars; the Battle of Ōrākau, 30 March to 2 April 1864. Most New Zealanders know this story as Rewi’s Last Stand, immortalised in two films in the early twentieth century, and the later novel by A.W.Reed.

At Orākau on the banks of the Pūniu River in the Waikato, 300 Māori, defended the pa – an agreed place of safety – against 1700 armed British Soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron.

A third of the defenders were women and children.

They came from the allied tribes of Waikato, Raukawa, Tuhoe, Taranaki, Kahungunu, and Ngati Porou to aid Ngāti Maniapoto, the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). They were led by the great nationalist leader Rewi Manga Maniapoto.

Acknowledging with respect the primary right of Maniapoto to tell this history, a fact that has often been been “trampled all over by historians” (p.87), Witi tells the tale from the point of view of an ancestor of his own Gisborne iwi of Rongowhakaata.

Descended from the great Chief Ruharuhi Rukupō, Moetū whakaaraara (the one who sleeps standing and sounds the alarm), came with other iwi to aid Ngāti Maniapoto against the British.

Many allies were prevented from gaining the pa by the British. The remaining 300 were cut off from water, food and ammunition while facing formidable odds – the British had big guns, they had peach stones and taiaha.

The philosophy of the allied Maori defenders was that if they were to die, it would be in battle. “It came as a forlorn hope with us; no one expected to escape, nor did we desire to; were we not all the children of one parent? Therefore, we all wished to die together.” Hiti Te Paerata, Ngati Te Koihera. p.12).

They lived and died by the warrior’s code; defending the land for future generations:

“Me mate te tangata, me mate mō te whenua.

The warrior’s death is to die for the land.” p.13.

Many question the presence of women and children. The character of Rua Papa explains this on p.87. Rangitira (or royal) families ‘travelled together, a sovereign with his court, wife or hoa rangatira and children. If there was a battle, the rangitira families would always be in it, leading from the front. You never saw them sitting on their horses watching from a nearby hillside.” (p.87)

Governor Grey promoted his war as ‘defensive,”  persuading Aucklanders to fear invasion and brutal murder.

The truth was the reverse. A prayer book found recently and traced back to Ruapekapeka Marae suggests that during the attack on this pa, the inhabitants had been at Sunday prayer.

As a nation, we have set a date to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars, beginning 28 October 2017. This decision came directly from submissions to the government about the Battle of Ōrākau. This book acknowledges this decision.

A celebration of the bravery and tenacity of Maori, this wonderful book collects haka, waiata, personal accounts, photographs and maps, as well as Witi’s novella. The story is written in Te Reo Māori on the left page and English on the right, enabling the reader to choose to learn from the translated text.

Bilingual Māori language materials

Learning te reo Māori – Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Rāpare

Karawhiua! Kōrero Māori.

Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi has a range of te reo Māori resources to help you with your te reo Māori learning.
Cover from Rhyme & Reo  Cover for Launch yourself into Te Reo Māori Cover of He Whakarārama

Whether you are a visual learner or love to write, write and write some more or even if your best learning is done by listening, there is he pukapuka for you to enjoy and discover.

If you like to stay connected then our Te Ao Māori page on our website will keep you engaged for a very very long time. Take a moment (you may need several) to immerse yourself with our online resource Te Whata Raki – learn about Te Ao Māori in a graphically beautiful and bilingual space. New content has just been added as well.

Snapshot from web page of Te Whata Raki

Mā te kimi ka kite, mā te kite ka mōhio, mā te mōhio ka mārama!
Seek and discover, discover and know, know and become enlightened!

Have you a favourite learning tool for Te Reo Māori?

Kōreroreo mai.

Te reo Māori on the go – Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Rātū

Ata Marie tātou, kei te pēhea koutou? Ngā mihi ki a koutou.

Kei a koe te tikanga – (it is up to you) – kia kaha kōrero ki te Māori

I have  recently joined the ‘smart phone’ club and will never again say to  tōku taitamariki /rangatahi (teenager) to get her face out of her phone! In fact I am the one who now gets – “are you on your phone again!”

Tōku waea pūkoro (phone) has been an extension of my te Reo Māori learning. Tūmeke!
I can now titiro, whakarongo me kōrero te reo Māori while waiting at te tākutu, waiting for te taitamariki/rangatahi (which is often), when TV is hōhā, when I am having a kai and sitting under he rakau feeling te rā on tōku kanohi.

I have found useful pages on Facebook that give me instant new learning in a very visual way.  My ‘photo’ app is now full of great kupu, rerenga, kiwaha me whakataukī. Like this one, that I can now copy, paste and/or share, print and stick on the fridge at home, in the office, in the car …

And for a short sharp bit of akoranga me pikitia (learning with pictures) :

Save the photo, use the kupu me Kōrero te reo Māori.

Check out some more technology and social media reo.

Kōrerorero mai, tell us how you do it – Kōrero Māori.

 Kia maia, kia manawanui – perserverance is well rewarded



Ka pai rawe Finnian. Kia kaha ki te Kōrero Māori.

Tēnā koutou kātoa. Ngā mihi ki a koutou.

Even after 40 years of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (1975 – 2015) celebrations, pronunciation of this taonga continues to challenge us.

Finnian Galbraith, a year 11 student at Kāpiti College shares his thoughts on this. The clip has gone viral and let’s hope it generates a lot of kōrero. Ka pai rawe Finnian.  Kia kaha ki te Kōrero Māori.

Keep locked in to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi for daily posts and links to help you and your pronunciation.

Rāhina – Te kupu o te rā

Kia oraKia ora, it is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and each day we will bring you a new word or phrase with some audio.

Rāhina / Mane – Monday

Ata mārie – Good morning


Matariki hunga nui 

This whakataukī can be translated as

Matariki has many admirers.

Matariki brochure
Download our Matariki brochure 2.7MB PDF

Māori New Year is here. We have come to the time of the year again when the constellation of stars known as Matariki reappears in our pre-dawn winter sky.  The rising of Matariki this year is on Piripi/June 28th.

Matariki refers to the small yet distinctive constellation of stars and the name itself is often translated as meaning “tiny eyes”, or “the eyes of God”.

This constellation of stars is celebrated and admired throughout the world and is called many different things: Subaru (Japan), Pleiades (Greece), Seven Sisters (Indigenous Peoples of the Americas), Mataliki (Tongan) and Mataali’i (Samoan) to name a few.

Matariki is celebrated and recognised in Christchurch City Libraries in many ways: special Matariki Wā Kōrero (Storytimes) are held, and community art activities, educational seminars and displays highlighting libraries’ resources are featured in all libraries.

This year , Christchurch City Libraries are focusing on Te Taiao ( the environment) and Rongoā Māori (traditional medicines). Visit your local library to learn about native plants and trees, their Te Reo Māori name and some traditional and contemporary uses of these plants.

The tukutuku panels which feature on our Matariki brochures this year demonstrate traditional and contemporary use of plant material for art, whakapapa and wānanga.  Find more information on this tukutuku project.
Matariki at the library

Matariki is all about:

  Whakapapa, Whānau,

Kai and Hākari,

Wānanga, Te Reo Māori

and Whakawhanaungatanga.

Te Kete Wānanga o Papanui – Papanui Library

How Papanui got its name:
Papanui is the Māori word for ‘a platform in a tree from which birds are snared’. This forest once boasted an abundance of forest birds that were regularly snared for kai.

An alternative meaning of Papanui is ‘big or large flat land’, where in 1856, there was a native bush of about 200 acres still standing. It seems this suburb sits on top of a large rock that pushes water out towards to some of the surrounding suburbs such as St Albans and Merivale.

Papanui Bush once boasted an abundance of forest birds that were regularly snared for kai in this region. This was at a time when the area was covered by a large stand of forest, dominated by tōtara, mataī, kahikatea and kānuka, similar to the smaller stand of bush that now remains in Riccarton, traditionally known as Pūtaringamotu or more commonly today known as Dean’s Bush.

Papanui Bush generated a thriving business for the timber industry in the early years of European settlement. Sadly, the milling of this area, and proximity to the planned Christchurch city location, in the 1850s it was rapidly demolished and the entire 30 hectares of bush that was left standing at the time was cut down and went towards building some the first homes, shops, government headquarters, schools churches and other structures around the city.

The site of Papanui Bush is the present day Papanui Domain, located off Sawyers Arms Road. A small native garden and a mural painted on the nearby community hall today commemorate the great forest trees that once dominated the area.

It is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week and this year’s theme is Ngā ingoa Māori – Māori names – so we are bringing you some of the stories behind the Māori names of our libraries.

Take a left turn to Māori Language Week

Cover: What if we learn Te Reo to delay Alzheimer's?

What if we learnt Te Reo to delay Alzheimer’s?

That’s what the slogan on the bus in front of me said. I felt a range of emotions:

  • First, I smiled – it’s the new “What if” advertising campaign for Canterbury University – and it’s clever.
  • Next, I felt despair about all the world languages that we have lost (one every 14 days on average according to an excellent article in the July 2012 National Geographic). Could a bus slogan have saved them?
  • Finally, resignation set in. After all, why not? There’s going to be a lot of old Kiwis soon and if we all spoke Te Reo and kept our marbles while we’re at it, how great would that be?

All that emotion and I was only half way to work.

This week is Māori Language Week, so it is a good time to do a bit of reckoning. I’ve lived here for 12 years now and I’ve just made a list of all the Māori words I know. It’s embarrassing – let’s just say that if you took the number 12, multiplied it by 3, found the square root of that and added 14 you’d be close (I’m hoping you will have given up long before you get there). Pathetic.

Everyone knows that being multilingual is hugely advantageous. Most of us also know that we have to keep active and keep learning as we get older. In fact, Alzheimer’s can be staved off if you do even one new thing every day. My new thing is to write with my left hand. Up till now my left arm has just hung there sporting a few bits of bling on its tips – it’s high time it came to the party. But left-hand writing is really hard. I can feel the right hemisphere of my brain screaming for mercy.

Then, as I overtook the bus and pulled into Shirley Library, it came to me. How about if I learnt Te Reo writing only with my left hand?

Ehara mai!*

* Don’t know what Ehara mai means?  You can find the answer on this page of basic phrases from Kōrero Māori.

Te kupu o te rā

Kia oraKia ora, for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori we brought you a new word each day related to this year’s theme Manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome).

Here is the list of words and phrases used this week.

Rāhoroi– Saturday

Kia pai tō ra.

Have a good day.

Rāmere / Paraire – Friday

Kia hoki mai ano.

Come back again.

Rāpare / Taite – Thursday

Kia ora, ko Jane tēnei.
Hello, this is Jane.

Rāapa / Wenerei – Wednesday

Tau kē!


Rātū / Tūrei– Tuesday

Nau mai, haere mai ki Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi.

Welcome to Christchurch City Libraries.

Rāhina / Mane – Monday

Ata marie – Good morning

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week runs from 4 Hōngongoi — 10 Hōngongoi 2011 / 4 July — 10 July 2011. Each year The Māori Language Commission sets a theme, and in 2011 it is “Manaakitanga” — hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome.

Rāhoroi – Te kupu o te rā

Kia oraKia ora, it is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and each day we will bring you a new word related to this year’s theme Manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome).

Rāhoroi– Saturday

Today’s phrase is:

Kia pai tō ra.

Have a good day.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week runs from 4 Hōngongoi — 10 Hōngongoi 2011 / 4 July — 10 July 2011. Each year The Māori Language Commission sets a theme, and in 2011 it is “Manaakitanga” — hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome.