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Celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: Dana

12.28pm 17 September 2021


Ko Dana McDonald toku ingoa
Hei kaimahi ahou, mo te mana ārai o Aotearoa
Pou Whakahaere ā-Rōpū Tūhura Mōhiotanga, Ūruhitanga

Nā te aha koe i ako ai te reo Māori? Why did you decide to learn te reo Māori?

Arriving in Aotearoa in the mid-90s and starting a role with NZ Police, I became aware of the need for me to understand te reo Māori as well as tikanga (customs, protocol). Having a better understanding helped me build better relationships with an important part of the communities where I worked.

Ki ō whakaaro, he aha ngā take nui e ora ai te reo Māori? What are the main issues you feel facing the survival of the Māori language?

I am a firm believer that language is the base or foundation of every culture. In New Zealand, we have several languages spoken – each of these languages have a cultural home. If those languages are no longer spoken in New Zealand, they will continue to thrive and be spoken in their cultural home. If we stop speaking te reo Māori in New Zealand, there is no other cultural home and the language may cease to exist. This whakataukī is valid:

Toi tu te kupu, toi tu te mana, toi tu te whenua

This proverb is a plead to hold fast to our culture, for without language, without mana (spirit), and without land, the essence of being a Māori would no longer exist, but be a skeleton, which would not give justice to the full body of Māoritanga (Māoridom). I think the survival of te reo Māori is up to all of us – to give te reo a go, to better understand tikanga, to take part! 

He aha ngā mea painga o te Wiki o te Reo Māori ki a koe ? What does Te Wiki o te reo Māori mean for you?

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is a great opportunity for people to take part, as little or as much as you are comfortable with. While you won’t see me leading waiata, I’m doing my best at signing up my whānau (my sister in Canada has signed-up!) and encouraging my leadership team to take part. I’m also learning some basic karakia.

I will leave you with this – a proverb that I has always resonated with me and that is in line with our values at Customs:

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in this world? It is people, it is people, it is people.