Ngāti Ngāraranui revive ancient traditions

A serious lack of speakers and callers on the marae has forced a Te Arawa tribe into damage control. More than ninety members of Ngāti Ngāraranui gathered at Waitetī Marae in Rotorua to revive their ancient tradition.

Ngāti Ngāraranui is a tribe striving for cultural excellence.   

Karl Leonard says, “Our buildings have recently been restored, we've got quality resources, but without the language and culture they mean nothing.

Hurinuku Malcolm, Te Arawa, Ngati Ruanui says, “I love it as I've lived abroad for many years, since 1960.”

It's the first workshop of its kind for Te Arawa iwi, Ngāti Ngāraranui. The tribe is looking to restore the pool of speakers and callers of their marae after decades of demise.

We had orators in the past. Those who knew how to speak, those who understood the roles of the oldest and that of the youngest. They worked together. But as the language declined, generations became less confident and more ignorant. Hence the decline.

Marae across the country are suffering similar circumstances. Almost a hundred students took up the challenge. The majority were new to the Māori language, publicly executing speeches and calling. 

Leonard says, “These workshops allow us to test parents alongside their children because we must. It's our long term strategy.”  

Malcolm says, ““Some of us are only young, but the hope is that we attain the same level of fluency and skill as those of yesteryear.”

Harata Hahunga is almost sixty, but say's her knowledge of karanga is limited. 

Hahunga says, “Because of my age, people turn to me at gatherings to perform the karanga, but I don't know enough about it.”

The workshops help sharpen their minds and tongues for the big test ahead of them.

“I've written some words and I've spent day and night memorising them. I'm scared,” says Hahunga.