Reflecting on Te Wiki o te Reo Māori at Ohu Inspire
Ehara tāku toa I te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini
My strength is not as an individual, but as a collective
This whakataukī meant so much to me as I sat at my desk in my whare tari on the first day of te wiki o te reo Māori 2022. I was playing waiata while I waited for the Ohu Inspire whānau to come online and join our first hui of the week.
We are a collective on a journey to change our perspectives, to open and free our minds, build curiosity and encourage comfort as we authentically embed Te Ao Māori into Inspire Group.
Te wiki o te reo Māori meant more to us, collectively, this year than any previous year.
Thinking back to last year, it was a time when our clients asked us to include te reo in learning as a tick-box exercise; a time when we would say ‘decolonising’ and cringe; a time when we didn’t all know why embracing and embedding te ao Māori into our every day genuinely and authentically was the right thing to do.
In 2021 our Mahuru Māori moment was coming together to do a Kahoot! and taking a screenshot.
Since that Kahoot!, we’ve made a stand, we’ve made a change and are on the waka of change. We’re asking questions of each other and our clients, we used to be afraid to ask, the learning we’re designing is different and the impact we have is greater.
Already te wiki o te reo Māori 2022 has been very different. We have a plan. A plan that has:
- videos of our leadership team opening each day with a karakia and sharing a whakataukī that resonates with them
- planned activities and challenges for each day, shared during our 9am daily virtual hui
- different waiata shared each day
- our Te-Whanganui-a-Tara Ohu Inspire tīma coming together for a karakia, waiata and kapa haka session
- our fortnightly ‘Decolonising Ohu Inspire’ hui on Friday focusing on ‘50 years on from the Te Reo Māori petition’.
We don’t know exactly where our te ao Māori journey will take us, what we do know is that it will continue on past te wiki o te reo Māori, growing and changing as we do.
Ki te Kotahi te kākaho, ka whati; ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati
If a reed stands alone, it can be broken; if it is in a group, it cannot.
Here are some whakaaro from the team:
“Inspire’s te reo journey and my personal one has accelerated rapidly in the last year. There isn’t a day that goes by without Māori kupu and phrases being used in everyday conversation.
It feels like I’m listening with ‘new ears’ where I can pick-up more words from what I am hearing and try to make sense of the kōrero. I find myself quietly practising pronunciation of new words when I hear them, trying to get them right. I’m also digging deeper into the words and discovering that many of them are 'constructed' from smaller words that I already know.”
“It’s been an awesome learning journey for me exploring Te Ao Māori worldview. I think the biggest part for me is just knowing that I have got a better understanding of the place where I live, Aotearoa, its roots and beautiful people. I think it’s so important that everyone embraces the beautiful language, richness of wisdom and karakia it offers and sees it as a way to love people in their communities, neighbourhoods and life a little bit more and better because we understand each other better.
It's been wonderful from an organisational point of view to be able to help other organisations include this in their learning as they also move forward in their journey of incorporating te reo Māori and Te Ao Māori into their workplaces. Because we are doing the journey ourselves, I feel like I’m able to better help as a learning designer.”
“It’s so easy to get caught up in your own way of thinking and belief systems, even when you have put in the mahi and spent the majority of your life trying to be a good ally for Māori. But it wasn’t until a conversation (difficult parts and all) became normalised and a structured part of my working week, that I had the opportunity to listen and learn why conversations around race in New Zealand are more important and in-depth than we are given the opportunity to learn about throughout school and everyday life.
- Why do we open and close a hui with a karakia?
- Why is whakawhanaungatanga important?
- Why is it so important that the use of Te Reo and Tikanga is normalised and integrated into society by all New Zealanders, not only Māori?
These questions, along with many others have been topics of discussion since we began our journey as a team to Decolonise Inspire Group, and by being asked them I have learnt things that have increased my knowledge in Te Reo and Tikanga, but I have also learnt why it is my responsibility as a Pākehā person to understand why it is so important that we ask and answer these questions.”
“My learning so far has been around the depth and breadth of the language and the meaning of the kupu. Flowing from that is the richness of time that is spent focused on he tangata and relationships which brings life and meaning to much more than the transactional way that can be presented sometimes in life.”
“Celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori last year felt like having pieces of a beautiful puzzle in our hands. We got to see glimpses but didn't have the whole picture yet. We've since taken a holistic journey as an organisation, gaining more and more insight into the Te Ao Māori perspective. We've stepped out of our comfort zones in many ways to open ourselves to learning. We didn't only see and listen, but also spoke, shared, danced and sang. We got to learn more about our tīma in the process as well, which added to the richness of our journey. This year I feel like we now have so many more puzzle pieces to add to the picture and I'm excited about what's to come in the next year.”
Frieda de Bruyn
“Our journey to really understanding Māori is about so much more than the language. It’s been wonderful and moving learning about the significance of many aspects of Māori culture, which can only enhance our understanding and appreciation of te Ao Māori.
From a more mahi-focused view, incorporating kupu into our everyday conversations and seeing many of our clients share our genuine excitement and desire to make this an integral part of the learning experience, rather than the tokenistic way it’s been done in the past, proves that we are all ‘rowing in the same direction’.”
“I’m relatively new to Ohu Inspire and it’s been really exciting for me to join a team which has been very active in its journey towards the inclusion of Te Ao Māori.
I also love being part of a team where people feel comfortable giving things a go and feel comfortable being active in their participation. Learning any new language can be super scary and I think it’s important to be in an environment where it’s safe to fail. It’s also important to be in an environment where it's okay to feel uncomfortable at times, which is something I think Ohu Inspire do really well.”
About the author
Gemma Sides is the Kaiwhakatere for Decolonising Ohu Inspire as well as a learning designer. She helps to build cultural awareness and designs learning experiences that make a difference.