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Celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: Lisa, Supervising Customs Officer Outreach to Māori Exporters

01.48pm 14 September 2021


Ko Maungakohatu tōku maunga
Ko Mangakahia tōku awa
Ko Rahiri tōku tupuna
Ko Ngatokimatawhaorua tōku waka
Ko Ngati Terino tōku hapū
Ko Ngapuhi tōku iwi
Ko Te Aroha tōku marae
Ko Teuira Lisa Pou ahau
E mihi ana ki te rangi
E mihi ana ki te whenua
E mihi ana ki o tātou tupuna kua wheturangitia
E moe, e moe, e moe atu ra
Ka huri atu ki a tātou, ngā kanohi ora o te hunga mate
Tēna koutou ngā apiha toa o te whānau, Te Mana Ārai o Aotearoa
Tēna koutou, Tēna koutou katoa

Lisa - website.jpg

Above: Lisa (left), alongside her colleague, Ellen (right).

Na te aha koe I ako ai te reo Māori? Why did you decide to learn te reo Māori?

Te reo Māori helps me connect the past to the present for a better future.

I have always wanted to learn the language. I was raised in the culture of whānau, hui, tautoko, whanaungatanga, but I lost my father at the age of 13 and with that, any interest to learn the reo. However, through all the challenges that life throws at everyone, there is no denying identity. He wahine Māori ahau. Being raised on our whenua, at our marae, in the shadows of the safety of our maunga, next to our river that watered out stock and land to sustain us, reminds me of what I have come from, thus what I am a part of. That ability to reminisce, to recount memories, to speak with my elders and wider whānau in te reo Māori, is a blessing like no other. Speaking history helps keep them close, keeps you strong and keeps you connected.

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?

  • My personal opinion – fear.
  • Of condemnation for sharing Māori. Things Māori are not always warmly received so is the hurt worthwhile? Is the fuss worthwhile? Is the kickback worthwhile? Some say, “No it’s not,” so won’t speak it outside their safe space.
  • Of making mistakes. Am I saying it right? Is that sentence structure right? What does he/she/they think?
  • Lack of understanding of the true treasure that te reo Māori is.

He aha te mea nui I ngākau nui I te reo? What are you passionate about in te reo Māori?

It is a life long journey that moves across generations and the learning never stops. I completed 1 year total immersion study last year, that has opened up a whole new world. I am envious of our pasifika whānau. You hear their different languages spoken in many places. That’s beautiful. Often, more than I hear te reo Māori. I want te reo Māori to be spoken everywhere. For me, te reo Māori adds meaning and significance of relevance and connection.

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?

  • opportunity,
  • ​to learn a treasure,
  • for people who wouldn’t normally, to speak Māori,
  • to help revitalise something that was close to being lost forever,
  • to grow understanding,
  • to connect.

I opened my kōrero today with my pepeha. It introduces me through family, marae, land and ancestors. Each person is so much more than what we see. Being able to express your true authentic self through our language, wherever you may stand, is special.

Ko to ngākau ki ngā taonga a o tupuna

In your heart lay the treasures of your ancestor.