Motivated to role model Te Reo
Care and Protection Coordinator Kira Paul (Ngāpuhi) is a real champion of the Māori language at our Manawatū site.
He’s started up ‘Rāhina Reo’ or ‘Māori Mondays’, and is part of the site Māori roopu which leads whaikōrero, waiata, and more.
He converses confidently in Te Reo with his colleagues and incorporates it into his everyday work with Māori families – but he hasn’t always known the Reo well.
Where his journey began
Other than a little exposure to it at high school, Kira grew up without Te Reo Māori.
When his first son was born, nine years ago, he started feeling the desire to learn it.
“There was a loss of connection to my culture and I wanted to be able to role model that connection to my children,” he says.
“Take every opportunity”
Kira completed a 100 level Reo Māori paper at Massey University in 2017 but wasn’t able to take his learning much further than that at the time.
Later, when he started work at Oranga Tamariki the ability to develop his Reo capability became a reality and he remembers being inspired by a colleague at his induction training.
“I did my pepeha and then got chatting with fellow inductees. One colleague gave me the advice to stand up and take every opportunity to kōrero Māori and that stuck with me - I took it as a wēro (challenge).”
Progression through immersion
Kira took up the shared whaikōrero (speech) role in site mihi whakatau, and at the start of this year enrolled in Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s Te Pūtaketanga o te Reo Level 4 programme.
Jumping into the rūmaki (total immersion) programme was scary, Kira says, but he knew it would be the best way to learn.
“It was totally foreign but I just embraced it.”
Around the same time, he also connected with his dad’s whānau and marae up in Te Ngaere, north of Waitangi.
“Just go for it”
Kira’s Te Wānanga o Aotearoa programme finishes at the end of the year and he’s excited about carrying on his learning.
In the meantime Rāhina Reo continues each week, where staff are encouraged to speak to each other only in Māori.
The message from Kira for anyone else considering developing their Reo capability is: “just go for it, really go for it”.
Patua te taniwha, tuwhitia te hopo! Feel the fear and do it anyway!