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Maori to share culture at Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Washington DC will have a Māori element next month thanks to AUT University’s Te Ipuakarea -The National Māori Language Institute and the Smithsonian Institution.

A group of students and staff from across AUT University will attend the The One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage programme at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is attended by around one million visitors each year and is hosted by the prestigious Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall in Washington DC.

The opportunity to host a festival side event symposium on Māori Language Revitalisation in Aotearoa/New Zealand also provided a gateway to include a small performing arts group and several artists.

A group of eight students will perform alongside presenters at the symposium to celebrate the revitalisation of the Māori language under the theme Tōku reo, tōku ohohoho ~ Tōku reo, tōku mapihi maurea ~ Tōku reo, tōku whakakai marihi, meaning, My language, my token of high esteem ~ My language, my object of affection ~ My language, my precious jewel.

AUT staff members will present at the symposium, including Professor Tania Ka‘ai, Dr Rachael Ka‘ai-Mahuta, Dr Dean Mahuta and Valance Smith following a keynote address by Dr TÄ«moti Kāretu, a Fellow of AUT’s International Centre for Language Revitalisation, Adjunct Professor of Te Ipukarea and renowned throughout the world as a language revitalisation expert.

The student performing arts group, Poutama, named after the stair-like lattice-work pattern found in the traditional meeting house, will perform items including traditional waiata, mōteatea, haka and poi incorporating a rich cultural element that is uniquely Pacific. The word poutama is reflective of the levels of attainment and success one can achieve in various facets of life, serving as a metaphor for its members spanning from undergraduate to PhD students.

"It is an honour to be selected for this prestigious event and the symposium will offer a wonderful experience for all involved," said group tutors Valance Smith and Erana Foster.

"We are extremely proud of the group and feel it is important to highlight the themes of the symposium through the performing arts, showcasing a Māori world view and the treasures of our ancestors to an international audience."

The symposium will be held at the Rasmuson Theatre in the National Museum of the American Indian on July 1 and 2.

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