36 weeks of full immersion learning at Te Wānanga Takiura was the only way we were going to pick up our reo. We have not had the privilege of growing up in an environment where te reo Māori was spoken alongside many generations of tangata whenua here in Aotearoa. We knew we needed to take that leap & take a year off our usually full & busy schedule to focus on learning.
Rumaki Reo means literally to drown in the language & te ao Māori. Every day we felt inadequate, traumatised at having to learn something you knew was your birthright yet having to pay for. Kupu hou (new words), grammar, new ways of thinking, applying our newly found love & appreciation for our culture through words that have only made sense from a Māori world view. It has been the hardest and most difficult challenge we've had to face to date as a couple as adult learners & as contemporary Māori artists but it was essential for our personal growth. We've made it to the end, we've gained not just a diploma in oral fluency (this doesn't mean we are fluent it means we did all of our exams orally to achieve the essential grades). We've cried, laughed, cried again & wondered how we would make it to the end. We started the year with a few words in our kete and finished by completing a 1 hour workshop in te reo Māori only - no reo pākea at all, no notes, in front of our class & pouako.
Our kids have had 2 absent parents for a year in many ways having to focus on what needed to be done in order to not waste the 6 figure income we needed to save to survive as a household of 10 running a company for a year while both studying. But we are at the end and we did it, they did it, our class Ngāti Piripi made it through & now we can confidently say that we have given our best & learnt as much as we could in that time. It is an exciting place to be knowing we can have a good basic conversation now, we can understand what is happening at a hui, feel confident to stand & to mihi, to waiata, karakia, engage with our Māori whānau but make mistakes & know its ok. We are excited about the season ahead & our newfound energy to get focussed on our art once again & thankful to have been supported by our great friends at our recent whakapōtaetanga.
'Kaua e mate wheke, mate ururoa!'