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Kia Ora e te whānau!

Ko Puhanga Tohora te maunga.

Ko Taheke te awa.

Ko Taheke te marae.

Nō NgāPuhi au.

Ko Ella Sargent tōku ingoa.

I have been fortunate enough to work alongside The Neighbourhood Aotearoa this year, in hopes to uplift te ao Māori within the community. For the past few months, I have held kōrero about Māoritanga and te reo Māori on a weekly basis through @Neighbourhoodnz instagram stories. Through this, our whānau have enjoyed experiencing different elements of te ao Māori and felt supported to integrate Māoritanga into their own ao; through karakia, waitata, reo, tikanga etc. This mahi is important to me because it encourages Māoritanga to be used in more communities around Aotearoa, and most importantly makes the reo more accessible for Māori. I feel privileged to be able to tautoko the kaupapa of this organisation.

My reo haerenga officially began this year when Pāpā and I signed up to Level 1 Reo classes through NMIT. For Māori, learning te reo Māori is complex and poses many challenges - as we are confronted with a process of revitalisation and reclamation. I struggled mentally for months as I wasn’t processing my anger, mamae and whakamā I felt from colonisation in productive ways. This ultimately interfered with personal relationships and became isolating quickly. I was being divisive. I knew that if I wanted to encourage others to join the ao Māori waka, I had to be positive and uplifting and give people a chance. As a result, @MānawaMāori was birthed on instagram! For me, this community was pivotal in my healing journey because it offered an outlet to express my kare ā-roto, and connect with other Māori. The connections I have made with other Māori and Tangata Tiriti are taonga to me and have given me the kaha to haere tonu on my haerenga in te ao Māori.

E te Iwi; this haerenga is not linear. You will feel whakamā, you will feel unproud, you will feel scared, you will feel like you will never progress. But, if you haere tonu, you will. It took a good 6 months before I felt comfortable to use my reo, especially outside of my kāinga. I nearly quit my reo classes after the first noho because I thought I would never understand it. However, 10 months later, I’ve visited my whānau and whenua in Hokianga, use my reo every day and feel proud to be a wahine Māori in Aotearoa. You must haere tonu. Kaua e wareware, e tino kaha ana koe! Feel the tautoko of your tīpuna and know that we are in this together. “He waka eke noa”.

Written by Ella Sargent

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