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Te reo Maori much more than just an official language at Parliament

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Te reo Māori is an essential part of Parliament, to be supported, respected and celebrated.

Kaiwhakamāori Maika Te Amo offers interpretation for anyone who wants to speak te reo to the Māori Affairs select committee, at Parliament, in Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga the Māori Affairs select committee room, or when the committee travels to hearings around the country.

He says helping people feel comfortable when they are speaking to the select committee is vital.

"Some of the people who choose to speak te reo to the committee are very fluent English speakers, but speaking te reo allows them to convey their true thoughts and feelings. That’s really important if it’s an issue they are very passionate about or might be stressful for them.

"They might not be speaking to the committee for very long, so supporting people to speak their own language is a really important way to build a relationship and a certain level of trust and confidence."

Maika says te reo Māori is a crucial part of New Zealand’s heritage, legacy and identity as a nation.

"It always has been ever since there have been people here. We celebrate that and recognise the mana of the language, so you are welcome to speak te reo Māori to the Māori Affairs committee."

WÄ«remu Haunui’s role, as manager of Māori language services, is to support Māori spoken in the debating chamber with simultaneous interpretation for members of Parliament and Parliament TV and also translations and transcriptions for Hansard, the official record of what is said in the House.

10 September 2018: Wiremu Haunui. Source: Office of the Clerk. [Video duration: 2 min 06 sec]

He says as one of the official languages of New Zealand, Te Reo Māori will always have a part to play in the parliamentary system, but it offers much more.

"It also gives members of Parliament another form of delivery in the House that they might be more comfortable with, because Māori debate and English debate take quite different forms".

"Supporting Te Reo Māori to be spoken in the House also takes it a step further, rather than being seen as a language that is just spoken in certain areas only. Speaking it at Parliament gives it a status to everyone in the country."

Parliamentary Service’s Tumu Whakarae/Principal Cultural Advisor Kura Moeahu main focus for te reo at Parliament is in official ceremonies including pōwhiri and openings for functions.

He says te reo Māori is a spiritual language which is often richer than its English translation.

10 September 2018: Kura Moeahu. Source: Office of the Clerk. [Video duration: 0 min 43 sec]

"Take the word wairua which people often think of as spirituality, but it has a much deeper meaning as wai (water) and rua (two). Described as two elemental waters of the male and female element, when brought together to create the mauri. They both complete one another, so the meaning is much deeper.

"The beauty of te reo Māori is also in the intonation and vibrations of the words capturing the emotions of that given point and time. For example, debates in te reo in the chamber are quite different to debates in English, they use symbolism, imagery and proverbs."

Kura wants to see a growth in the use of ‘everyday te reo’ becoming normal over time.

"Both English and te reo have a place in Parliament. I’d like to see bi-lingual signage and the regular use of everyday phrases like Mōrena, Kei te pēhea koe? and He awhina mou? (Do you need help?)

He encourages te reo beginners to have fun learning the language.

"It’s okay to laugh and make a mistake. Of course there will be things that aren’t quite correct when you start. But give it a go, the second time will be better than the first and you’ll get better over time."

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