‘Te reo me ōna katoa.’
Each and every one of us has our own reo journey – a story of how language, in whatever form, has shaped us and influenced our worldview.
Mine began in the capital of my heartlands, Ngati Porou. I was raised in Ruatoria, in the reassuring shade of my maunga, the majestic Hikurangi, with the mighty awa Waiapu roaring nearby. I was surrounded by my cousins, aunties and uncles, nannies and papas, all of whom are avid and passionate reo zealots and helped to instil in me te reo me ōna tikanga. It’s embedded in my brain and carved into my heart, informing everything I do.
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Many of my formative years were also spent in Wellington, where my sister and I learnt to walk the line between te Ao Māori and te Ao Pākehā, growing and learning from both. Ko te whakatauki o Tā Apirana Ngata – ‘E Tipu E Rea’ – tērā ka tū hei mātāpono e arahi nei i taku haerenga, ki te ako i te reo Ingarihi, te reo o ētahi ō ōku mātua tīpuna.
Then, as a teenager, I lived in Brazil for a year which came with its own set of challenges and struggles, many revolving around my lack of ability to communicate and express myself in Portuguese, te reo o Brazil. I quickly realised that the concept of te reo me ōna katoa is not unique to te Ao Māori, it is a universal story about how key language is to engaging in culture. This only reinforces how important it is in ensuring our own reo not only survives, but flourishes.
Despite discovering Ngāi Tauira late in my university career, I’ve gained a lot from learning te reo o NT. In major part, it introduced me to a group of people whose daily schedules revolve around discussions about te reo and discussions in te reo. This whanau reintroduced a norm into my life that had been missing for a few years as my social circle was predominantly Pakeha and I mainly got my Maoritanga fixes from being at home with my parents or ‘back home’ (there is a difference) with my wider network of whanau and whanaunga. Having Maori friends who weren’t related to me (although, I still do have a few of the cuzzes in the alumni and current tauira ranks) has been a bit of a novelty that is yet to wear off.
These chapters of my reo journey have been bound together by ngā herenga whakapapa, ngā herenga tangata, ngā herenga reo. The ties to these different parts of my life have proven stronger than ever and really come to fruition in the creation of this publication. He mihi maioha ki a koutou katoa ngā ringa i pā ki tēnei whakaputanga o te Ao Mārama.
Te Ao Mārama 2016 is brought to you by Ngāi Tauira, in annual collaboration with Salient. This year’s theme is “Te reo me ōna katoa.”
This first issue of Te Ao Mārama was published in 1974. Ngā Tauira the Māori Students Association of Victoria University, strategized ways to promote and uplift our language throughout Te Wiki o te reo Māori. The journey then began, working alongside Salient, to produce a magazine that not only enhanced our beautiful language but also, celebrated our up and coming writers and language learners.
In the lead up to Te Ao Marama, one of the most common questions I was asked was, ‘what’s the reo to English ratio?’. If our aim is to normalize and celebrate and rejuvenate te reo then I don’t think the way to go about it is to ostracise not only Pakeha, but also Maori who don’t speak te reo, by producing a publication that is monolingual. I’ve tried to strike a balance this year with content that is in two of the three official languages of Aotearoa New Zealand to reflect the bicultural and multicultural environment we live in as citizens of this country. The stories contained within these pages have been written by Māori, in Māori or English, for Māori and non-Māori. Many will disagree with my approach, or perhaps not understand it, but everything that has gone into this issue of Te Ao Marama has been imbued with the singular aim of celebrating te reo me ōna katoa, regardless of what language it has been written in.