Author Keri Opai writes book for Māori disenfranchised from te reo

By Marena Mane

Tikanga, an introduction to Te Ao Māori, is a new book by linguist and educator, Keri Opai, which has been released to help beginners understand the Māori world.

Author Keri Opai hopes that this book reaches Māori who have been "disenfranchised from their language and culture.”

‘I'm hoping that many people look at that and go,` Wow, it's an interesting, fascinating world, I want to be part of that.”

"Kia oti a runga, kia oti a raro, ka puta ai, ki waho."

'Only when you know yourself, your community, and your guiding principles and practices, can you truly be your best self.'

Opai says the inspiration for his book came from the publisher of a children's book he was translating, who asked if he might create a book about Te Ao Māori.

Explaining why

Opai says his book was not written as an academic exercise but rather from a Māori perspective based on real-life experiences on the marae and during hui.

Most academic books are wonderful at teaching us how, when, and what, but they don't explain "why," he says.

“I have to do a bit of a disclaimer, so of course that's from my elders who taught me from here in Taranaki, but it's a beginning to look into that world in a reasoning, usually a pretty logical reasoning why things are the way they are.”

Opai is the author of Te Reo Hapai, a seminal work on developing a Māori language glossary for mental health, disability, and addiction. He pays tribute to his kaumatua's lessons, which he received at an early age.

"I don't know if I'm a great teacher, but I certainly had great teachers, So, hopefully, it comes out in the book."

The book, Tikanga. An introduction to Te Ao Māori, written by Keri Opai is now available in bookstores across Aotearoa.