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Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi maurea.
My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.
Ngā Rangahautira is the Māori Law Students Association at Vic, more commonly know as “NR”. We provide a supportive whānau environment for Tauira Māori studying law at Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui. Moana Jackson and other prominent scholars coined our name Ngā Rangahautira; the name originates from the phrase “he tina rangahau.” This relates to the responsibility of our tauira Māori at Te Wananga to research and to use the law to facilitate Māori success.
At law school language is a fundamental. Everyone has a language. Language is one of those commonalities that hold a group of people together. The language of Ngā Rangahautira is legal, but first and foremost it is derived from the language of our culture—Te Reo.
We need to see our language in greater use in our legal system. To find a space that is both equal in status and equal in use to the language of the coloniser. Te Reo occupies a limited arena in our legal system. 2012 saw it finally being used in the opening, adjournment, and closing of District, Family and Youth Court proceedings—bear in mind that it had been used since the inception of the Māori Land Court, Waitangi Tribunal, and Matariki Court.
Our tauira are using the skills they have gained at law school and are exploring additional avenues for using the ‘legal’ language to assist Māori and our culture.
Te Hīnātore was created in 2015 by students for Māori tauira and non-Māori tauira who wish to explore and understand the gap between Te Ao Māori and Aotearoa’s current legal system. Speakers such as Moana Jackson, Tai Ahu, Carwyn Jones, and Māmari Stephens have spoken to tauira about an array of issues linking tikanga, the law, and te Ao Māori.
Ngā Kaiaronui is a sub-rōpū of Ngā Rangahautira. This committee was formed as a response by tauira to use the legal skills they have gained through their studies to pro-actively advocate for Māori people. This is mainly done by preparing submissions on bills through the select committee process on issues that affect Māori.
We will continue to use the legal language that we learn at law school to ensure that Te Reo and our culture is no longer ignored by the Western Legal system.