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3 ways to keep te reo Māori strong, KIA KAHA

Updated: May 26, 2023

Māori language week has been and gone for another year but this year felt different. There was more energy and I wanted to look at how to keep up the energy and momentum for te reo Māori for myself and other teachers. I connected to the theme kia kaha strongly and this is what sparked my intent.

I started with reflection and connection using this whakatauki.

I am fortunate to have a cultural advisor and friend who in generous with her time and knowledge. She shared a process with me a long time ago to gain a deeper level of understanding of a kupu. The process is to deconstruct and reconstruct the kupu and I use it often for māramatanga in te Ao Māori. If I get the chance I then discuss my understanding and in the process gain much more in the sharing. Here is the process and my deconstruction and reconstruction of kia kaha:

Ki=into, towards a=well, well then

Ka=start of a new action Ha= what! - an expression of surprise

I thought the ha would be more like hā the breath of life as that is what it felt like for me during the week and now. After reflection and deconstruction of the kupu, kia kaha I reconstructed it to connect to a forward energy or movement and a new action or perhaps to take action.

The 3 ways I decided I would take action and keep te reo Māori strong were through:

2. Waiata and

1. Teaching others what I have learnt.

3. Resources

Resources engage children naturally and can extend on interests noticed within the early childhood setting. This could be about buying new resources or making them. What I like to do first is to extend or develop a resource that I or my early childhood setting already has.

I ask myself “How can I make this come alive?”. Some of my go-to ways are small world play, loose parts , art, puppets or wooden spoons and waiata. I find books and people are my greatest sources and resources.

2. Waiata

My go to. I still struggle with pronunciation after 25 years of teaching. I haven’t got the ‘ear’ for it BUT when I sing a waiata there are few to no errors. I am not sure exactly why or how it happens but knowing this means I sing more often (even if my voice isn’t great) as I know the pronunciation is 99 times better.

I made a commitment to learn a new waiata a week. The cool thing about using and learning waiata is that at the same time you are learning te reo Māori phrases and structure. I will write down and use the song lyrics as sentences in my practice and share them with others.

3. Teach what you learn to others.

Children, teachers or family, whoever will listen.When I learn new kupu and I and excited I want to share it with others. In the sharing I solidify the word, words, sentences or the deeper meaning. Or when I learn the meaning or essence and understand it at a deeper level I want to share or discuss this and, in the process, I strengthen my understanding and learn more. This connection is perhaps the key to keeping up the momentum. Teaching what you have learnt also means toy are practicing te reo Māori and practicing it with intent and passion.

So, the question is how will YOU keep te reo Māori strong teachers?

There is an affiliate link for the book and if you buy it here I get a small amount to support this blog and you pay no extra. The other links take you to resources, ideas and the Māori dictionary to help support your te reo Māori and teaching practice.

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