Encouraging Te Reo Māori through hand-crafted taonga

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Stay at home mum Tatyana Rountree (Ngāpuhi) is the founder of “Rākau”, a brand that aims to helps mums-a-like to promote Te Reo Māori in their homes through hand-made taonga. What initially began an activity within the walls of her own home, has developed into a small business, of popular demand. 

Finding herself consumed in her work, often distracting her from precious family time, Rountree embarked on this journey to connect with her tamariki, through tikanga Māori.

“I bought Te Reo books and me and my baby started reading those together and then I started looking around and thought,  I would really love things to play with to start speaking Te Reo with her,” she says.

Taiaha by Rākau Source / File

The crafts themselves range from poi and taiaha, to a full-on replica of a marae ātea. All of which were carved, painted, and sewn in-house by Rountree.

“It’s something that I started for myself and of other people to go wow, that's great! That's kinda what I've been looking for.

“The taiaha for boys which I absolutely love, are great tools for when our kids are watching kapa haka and to be able to pick up a poi or taiaha, and reacting to the world around them,” she says.

Source / File

Rountree has received an overwhelmingly positive response from kōhanga, daycares, and individual families, recently having a stall at “Waitangi at Waititi” last week.

But for this mother of three based in Māngere Bridge, the business aspect is not as important as the cultural upliftment her products have on families and kids.

“My vision is to be able to provide for mums and kohanga and to be able to provide tools to encourage and promote cultural role-play with our tamariki,” she says.