Embracing Te Reo: A Journey of Cultural Understanding and Respect


As demand for te reo Māori continues to rise across Aotearoa, an increasing number of non-Māori individuals are joining the movement towards revitalizing the language. However, it’s crucial for new learners to recognize the privilege they hold in this journey, alongside Māori reclaiming their cultural identity.

 Embracing Te Reo: A Journey of Cultural Understanding and Respect

Jennifer Ward-Lealand’s Immersive Experience:
Renowned theatre and film personality Jennifer Ward-Lealand shares her transformative journey into te reo Māori, initially encountering the immersive environment of Kura Reo. Despite feeling unprepared, Ward-Lealand embraced the experience, immersing herself in both language and tikanga, gaining invaluable insights into Māori culture.

The Value of Kura Reo:
Ward-Lealand emphasizes the significance of Kura Reo in facilitating language acquisition and cultural immersion. Drawing inspiration from esteemed te reo teachers, she underscores the privilege of learning from experts like Sir Tīmoti Karetu and Te Wharehuia Milroy, whose teachings deeply influenced her.

Jo Pannell’s Cultural Connection:
Jo Pannell shares her personal journey of learning te reo after relocating from South Africa to New Zealand. Recognizing the importance of language in understanding and participating in culture, Pannell highlights the transformative impact of learning te reo on her perception of Māori culture and tikanga.

Encouraging Perseverance:
Acknowledging the intimidating nature of Kura Reo for learners, Pannell urges perseverance, emphasizing the profound value of immersion in Māori rhythms and customs. Despite the challenges, she encourages non-Māori learners to embrace the journey alongside their Māori counterparts.

Awareness and Respect:
Both Ward-Lealand and Pannell stress the importance of non-Māori learners being mindful of the historical and cultural significance of te reo Māori. They emphasize the need for respect and awareness of the spaces occupied by tangata whenua in reclaiming their language and cultural heritage.

Conclusion:
As interest in te reo Māori grows among non-Māori communities, it’s essential for learners to approach their journey with humility, respect, and understanding. By recognizing the privilege of language acquisition alongside Māori cultural revitalization efforts, individuals can contribute positively to the preservation and celebration of Aotearoa’s indigenous language and heritage.

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