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Heretaunga Haukū Nui

12.54pm 15 September 2022 | Social Media

As Te Wiki o te Reo Māori comes to an end, we highlight Acting Chief Customs Officer Damien Nepata and his journey to learn te Reo Māori.

“A journey in any language begins at birth and ends, well, when we end. I embarked on my te Reo journey as it is my responsibility. My responsibility to my marae. My marae is more than a place to call home. It is my turangawaewae, my ukaipo, my tuakiri. It is the one place in Aotearoa, in the South Pacific, in the world, indeed the entirety of the universe that I can, without reservation, say where I truly belong,” says Damien.

“I was born in its shadow, raised in its warm embrace and although I left it to pursue life’s adventures, it has always called me home. And it does so now as sadly, the number of speakers on my marae, like many others, has diminished over the last few decades and the responsibility now falls to me so I must uphold that responsibility by preparing myself for it, for my marae, for my whānau but more importantly for my ancestors.”

“I have a responsibility to be the best representative of all those things by being the best speaker of te Reo I can be because, according to tikanga, there is no better praise you can deliver to a person than by the words that are conveyed from your mouth, by language.”

Tōku reo, tōku ohooho,

Tōku reo, tōku māpihi maurea,

Tōku reo, tōku whakakai marihi!

My language is my treasure, my language is my object of affection, my language is my ornamental grace.