Tuia Te Ako 2013: Māori thought (ways of thinking) – can it be taught?
Ngahiwi Apanui (Ngati Porou, Ngati Hine and Te Whanau a-Apanui), Kaihautu Māori Ako Aotearoa , discusses Pania Papa’s forthcoming presentation at Tuia Te Ako 2013, shares his own experiences and thoughts on the topic, and invites you to have your say.
Pania Papa asks the question, Māori thought (ways of thinking) – can it be taught?
(Abstract from Pania’s presentation for Tuia Te Ako 2013 presentation – scheduled for Day 2, 10 April)
The Māori language teaching fraternity, at tertiary level, is seeking to ensure correctness, fluency and that the language spoken by their learners comes from a Māori worldview. I will discuss the three principles espoused by The Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language with a specific focus on the third of these principles - 'ensuring a Māori essence is imbued in the language', to investigate whether in fact it is possible for language teachers to teach their students 'Māori worldview' in the context of the modern world, with its many technological distractions, given also the influence of the English language on the Māori language.
What is the relationship between Mātauranga Māori and thinking from a Māori worldview? How can a generation that wasn't raised in the richness of Māori cultural life reflect a Māori worldview? How can the generations that live some distance from their tribal waterways, food collection areas, forests and seas reflect a Māori worldview? Was a Māori worldview evident in the recent compositions of the haka realm?
This brings to mind several instances from recent memory. Firstly, a discussion about contemporary renderings of te reo Māori with Dr Rangi Matamua, graduate of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, te reo Māori researcher and academic. He referred to “te wairua o te reo” or “the spirit of the language” and whether phrases such as, “kia pai tō rā” were in the spirit of the language?
My mother, a native speaker of the Ngāti Porou dialect thought that “ka kite anō” was not within the wairua of the language and that “mā te wā” and “hei āpōpō” were more appropriate. She and other kuia from that rural East Coast metropolis, Te Araroa would often complain about the quality of the language in Māori media broadcasts. Often mum would turn to me in the middle of a Māori language TV item and say, “Kāore au i te mōhio he aha te kōrero a te tangata nei!’
Tīmoti Kāretu is long time proponent of lofty standards in the teaching, learning and speaking of te reo Māori. At Tuia Te Ako 2012 he stated, “The training of teachers of Māori teaching through the medium of (te reo) Māori is in need of serious attention. Needless to say, while the debate is going on, children are being short-changed.”
The consequence of this is the various renderings of te reo that are apparent on radio, television screens, the internet, on marae, in kura, in tertiary institutions, in public and in our homes. I have spoken to many parents of kura and reo rūmaki tamariki that have invented their own dialects – heavily influenced by the English they are hearing – that include classics such as “kāme taune” - “calm down”, “he aha tēnei mō?” - “what is this for?” or even “ka taea au he kai?” – “can I have something to eat?”
An NCEA examiner once told me that taea was the most misused word in the years he had been marking te reo Māori papers. It was being literally translated as “can” and “able”. It is actually the passive form of tae or arrive i.e. “ka tae au ki te tihi o te maunga” or in passive form, “ka taea e au te tihi o te maunga”. He also lamented the addition of the phrase “kua taea” to the Māori translation of NCEA – Te Taumata Mātauranga ā-Motu – because he felt achievement was already in the title.
Before we start pointing the finger of blame, Kāretu went on to say, “(te reo Māori) teachers are not up to par through no fault of their own – but because their training is not preparing them adequately for the classroom situation.”
There are of course a number of people who believe that the language will change because like every other language, it has to change to meet the challenges of its time and that we should just be glad it’s still being spoken.
However, I think we all agree that we want our language to retain its mana and uniqueness, and that it will lose those qualities if it becomes similar in structure to English. This is where Pania Papa’s keynote at Tuia Te Ako 2013 will resonate most with those of us who love and teach in te reo Māori. This is because I believe that mana and uniqueness of te reo Māori is defined by whakaaro Māori. What defines the quality of te reo Māori for you?
Tuia Te Ako 2013 will be held 9 – 11 April at Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki.
Register now if you haven't already.