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July 18, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Kōrero Whakataki – Change

As our environment and seasons alter around us, we as a society are becoming increasingly aware of the implications that change brings, especially when change occurs and it is out of our control or influence.

Change this week is within this publication, the annual Te Ao Mārama edition of Salient, an edition dedicated to the revitalisation of te reo Māori and also a chance to see a more committed shift in understanding tauira Māori here at Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui (Victoria University).

A focus of this year’s Te Ao Marama is a reflection upon the past and how we as ‘Māori’ are situating ourselves within ever changing domestic situations and also on a larger international scale, as we a people move toward a brighter future. Unlike previous years where Te Ao Marama is published during Te Wiki o te Reo, the national Māori Language Week run by Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission), this year dates were changed to accommodate the ever looming Rugby World Cup, pushing it back a couple weeks to 4th – 10th July, outside of University dates. The choice was made to continue the tradition of having an annual edition of Te Ao Marama, and also a shift toward choosing our own theme, rather than that established by Te Taura Whiri.

Since the first edition of Te Ao Marama in 1997 there has been much resistance toward allowing Māori students at an educational establishment much like Victoria University to display a sense of cultural pride. Year after year following Te Ao Marama, letters to Salient have been inundated with negative responses and as we as Māori try to take steps forward within an institution our freedom of speech and also our strong cultural values are scrutinised and evaluated by our somewhat educated peers and leaders of tomorrow. As academics do we not consider responses that show in depth reasoning to why it is such things as Te Ao Marama exist?

Using Christchurch as an example, and other natural events such as the recent tornadoes, we as a nation are still grappling with the aftermath of unexpected change in our landscape and also the huge altering of people’s everyday lives. With that in mind, will we see a change within our political sector as we draw closer to the general elections later this year? With the recent formation of Hone Harawira’s Mana party and all the media attention he receives will other issues leading up to the general election become overshadowed by a media stereotype of Māori that we have all become too familiar with? Will we see a shift in the way our country is run following the results? Will our landscapes and lives change, heading in a positive direction, or will we as a nation become even more complacent about our ‘bi-cultural’ unity and instead fail to address our ever growing apartheid underground cultural views?

Within these pages we hope you find insight into our culture, and although one’s comprehension may be little the purpose is to expose our language to an audience, or masses, who question its existence in today’s world. Stories from Māori graduates taking our language, our belief systems, our world views, and exposing them to international peoples within their countries are a couple of the articles this week. We also congratulate our recent Māori graduates on achieving what is statistically low and hear a personal account of a alumni who is currently on a breathtaking journey through the pacific, riding the tides that bought our tīpuna to this land centuries ago. On behalf of Ngāi Tauira we hope you enjoy this edition of Te Ao Marama and look at te reo Māori in a different light.

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