Kōhanga reo perform at Te Mokotini

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Kōhanga reo from Auckland and Te Tai Tokerau have gathered to perform waiata and haka at Te Mokotini in East Auckland.

Elder Tumanako Waiwai says that, unlike the more competitive senior competition of Te Matatini, the stage is a fun platform for the pre-schoolers to celebrate their culture.

"It's so we can hear our children and grandchildren speaking Māori," says Waiwai, "To show us what they've been learning inside the classrooms.  Today they've come to perform on the stage, and we see them in all their glory."

Six years ago the concept of Te Mokotini was birthed in Northland.

"We heard the word Te Matatini in regards to our senior competitors, we thought lets change it to 'moko', the multitude of children we have among us," says Bina Hepi, co-ordinator for kōhanga reo from the Northland to North Habour.

Now it's celebrated by kōhanga reo clusters in many regions, including Glen Innes in Auckland.

"From the time our children, toddlers and babies start at kōhanga reo they learn about our Māori knowledge and relational ties, the language and customs," says Rāhera Shepherd, teacher from local Kōhanga Reo o Hineteiwaiwa.

"It's about celebrating our grandchildren, which is what kōhanga reo is based on- the children," says Hepi, "They are the reason why we gather."
Organisers want to expand the annual event with more Auckland kōhanga reo joining the celebrations each year.