Ever heard the saying ‘you can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?’
It is easy to get frustrated about things or call for change from the comfort of your couch or behind your screen. It is a far more challenging thing to step out from the crowd and really pursue change.
Provocative action (no matter the topic) will cause heads and backs to be turned. It comes at a cost and sometimes success is not seen in one’s lifetime.
Today’s post is putting the spotlight on just a few of the people who have been prepared to put themselves in the firing line in order to bring change to the place that Te Reo Māori holds in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou descent first came to prominence at the University of Auckland, where he gained an MA. He was the chairman of the Māori Students Association, and then was a founder of Ngā Tamatoa (see previous post to check them out).
We wanted to eliminate racism in this country, and that developed very quickly for me into the belief that we really had no option but to take the country back. […] We focused on making our people, strong, proud and … arrogant, of who they are and what they are.
(Syd Jackson, on Māori youth movement Ngā Tamatoa)
He was strongly involved in supporting Tino Rangatiratanga, the revival of the Māori language, and the Māori protest movement in general.
“As tāngata whenua we should be seeking nothing less than the restoration of what we once had.” (Syd Jackson)
Professor Tania Ka’ai
Of Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu, Hawaiian, Cook Islands Māori, Samoan descent Tania has worked in Tertiary education for over 20 years. She is an absolute fountain of knowledge about Indigenous cultures, language revitalisation and heavily involved in the creation of Kohanga Reo and the fight for its credibility and sustainability. She has contributed to and authored books and resources that aid in the strengthening of Māori culture & language.
I was deeply impacted by Professor Ka’ai during my time studying at Otago University. Her drive, determination and passion for all things Indigenous (around the world) is inspiring and challenging.
Of Ngati Porou descent, Kanoa made headlines as she stood up to critics who complained she was speaking too much Māori when presenting the weather. Since September 2014 she had been introducing Māori words into her weekend weather broadcast. It was a tweet from Kanoa that revealed not everyone was happy with her use of te reo Māori, in fact she was receiving weekly complaints about it.
“We’re not going to stop speaking Maori and if people are challenged by it we just encourage them to keep watching so they can understand a bit more and not find it a negative thing.”
Rather than backdown Kanoa has instead challenged people’s attitudes and has the support of her boss and network. Thankfully she’s not letting the critical few sway her in her use of Māori or her fashion sense.
There are so many more individuals than just these three I have highlighted. I would love to hear others that you know.
As I’ve thought about Te Reo Māori this week and the fight for it’s survival and position as one of our official languages I can’t help but think of Dr Seuss and The Lorax. I know that story is about Trees but let’s face it, Dr Seuss wisdom is always about more than just that particular story.
Prof Tania Ka’ai & Dr Dean Mahuta – Online Language learning systems