Toi te Reo – the first ever Toi Tangata Kura Reo

At Toi Tangata, we understand and walk alongside our hoamahi with our own aspirations to deepening our knowledge and practice of our taonga tuku iho, including te reo Māori. Our kaimahi, Renei Ngawati, shares her reflections on our first ever Kura Reo.

To commemorate Mahuru Māori, and as part of our commitment to opening doors for kaimahi to share in mātauranga Māori and te reo Māori, Toi Tangata decided to expand our Toi Wānanga to include a kura reo. This was not your regular kura reo though. We wanted to include kori tinana, tākaro, hākinakina and kai oranga – all while immersed in te reo Māori. But with varying levels of reo Māori speakers amongst us, we decided in line with starting the reo Māori journey –  Tūwhitia te hopo, mairangatia te angitū! 

The initial plan was to hold different wāhanga in the kura reo with activity based learning, while being immersed in te reo Māori as much as possible. Then when level 4 hit us, we made some swift adjustments and moved to an online wānanga. The team jumped to the challenge and put together a programme that captured kōrero and whakaaro; while keeping it as interactive as possible so our hoamahi wouldn’t have to sit at the rorohiko all day.

First up we had kōrero whakawhiti discussing solutions and gaining support for kaimahi to invest in their own te reo Māori journeys. Whānau discussed the increase in reo and tikanga use in their organisations; the positive uptake from all staff, and their own reo Māori aspirations. A highlight kōrero for me was from Whaea Joanne Rama, who shared that her reo Māori aspiration is to facilitate a hapūtanga wānanga (which I can tell you, mīharo rawa!) all in reo Māori. Solutions were shared about how someone like Whaea Joanne could achieve that. 

Across the two day wānanga, we shared lunchtime pre-recorded sessions for whānau to watch. On the first day, Kuruho Wereta of Kura Rēhia shared his te reo Māori learning story and how it led him to co-develop the popular, whānau-friendly board game, Kaupapa. His kōrero spoke of growing up around creativity,  te reo Māori, aroha, and, of course, bravery. All the ingredients to draw upon to pursue his aspirations. 

The second pre-recorded session was Haylee Koroi, our Kaiārahi Training and Nutrition Lead, who hosted her own Kai Māori, Kai Ora webinar on the Toi Tangata kaupapa He Kai Kei Aku Ringa. She shared making prawn and vegetable laksa using pikopiko she sourced from the ngahere at her doorstep. It made me want to run out to the nearest ngahere and get some pikopiko myself! 

We were fortunate to have Wiremu Sarich share some simple kēmu, but with deep meaning behind them. This was a fun and interactive session, learning the kōrero behind the kēmu ‘tahi mati, rua mati’. We are lucky again to have Wiremu at our upcoming Hui ā Tau on 9 – 11 November 2021 as well.

In the afternoon sessions, Toi Tangata’s He Pī Ka Rere National Lead, Ranginui Rikirangi-Thomas, shared some simple but effective kupu whakarite to use in both our everyday lives and in our mahi contexts. Ranginui is an experienced teacher of te reo Māori so we all felt really privileged to have him share these awesome kōrero, as well as brush away some of the fear around using more than a few words in our kōrero mahi. 

We want to thank everyone who contributed to this online wānanga and who gave feedback that they would love more opportunities like this. We hope that in the near future, we can hold more Toi Tangata Kura Reo that invites all levels of te reo Māori, and definitely ā-kanohi-kitea! 

Renei Ngawati

Renei comes from a health promotion and Māori development background as a former lecturer in Māori Health at AUT University. He uri ia no Ngāti Hine me Ngāti Porou.