Ngāti Porou Invest $500,000 in Inter-generational Reo Transition

By Te Ao Māori News

Ngāti Porou Invest $500,000 in Inter-generational Reo Transition

Toitu Ngati Porou, the cultural development arm of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou commits $500,000 to front-load investment in Ngati Porou language acquisition, promotion and inter-generational transmission.

Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou Chairman, Selwyn Parata said, “If Ngāti Porou believes that our language is a taonga, which I believe they do, then we need to front-up and take responsibility for the care, use and retention of our reo”.

“Given the decline in fluency and the numbers of Ngāti Porou speaking to tatau reo (our language) we need to move immediately, we cannot afford to wait another year. And we certainly should not be expecting or waiting for the Government, the Taura Whiri or anyone else to lead the way”.

“That is not to say that they don’t have a role, they do, but it is one of support and co-investment not control and ownership,” he said.

The Runanganui recently endorsed a Ngāti Porou Reo Strategy, commissioned by Toitu Ngāti Porou, its cultural development arm.

“We had a number of reo strategies developed over the years and despite good intentions they all ended up gathering dust,” said Mr Parata. “This time we thought ‘ka whai huruhuru te manu ka rere’ – ‘the bird needs feathers if it is going to fly’, in other words we need to resource the strategy.”

The Runanganui sought a special dividend from their commercial development arm, Ngati Porou Holding Company, and this will be provided to Toitu Ngāti Porou to implement the strategy.

“The Ngāti Porou Reo Strategy is a blue-print for our whānau, hapū and iwi to reclaim our reo, to increase the numbers of Ngāti Porou whānau speaking their reo and promote and encourage intergenerational transmission in the home,” said Amohaere Houkamau, Toitu Ngāti Porou Chairperson.

“It provides for the establishment and maintenance of multi-platforms to enable and support reo speakers at various points in their reclamation journey,  including the development of ‘apps’, total immersion wānanga, recruitment of Pakeke, young parents and Rangatahi reo champions and supporting the many reo initiatives that are already happening at home.”

“We presented the reo strategy to sixty Ngāti Porou reo enthusiasts at the Porou Ariki Reo Wānanga, held at Rāhui Marae in Tikitiki last weekend”, said Ms Houkamau, “to check out their response  which was overwhelmingly enthusiastic,  although people said it’s easy to write a strategy it’s another thing to action it”.

The Porou Ariki Reo Wānanga, are quarterly total immersion forums, jointly organised by the Runanganui, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o te Waiu o Ngāti Porou, Te Kura Kaupapa o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti and local marae and hapū.

“The Porou Ariki Reo Wānanga are a good example of what Ngāti Porou is currently doing to promote the use of their reo,” said Ms Houkamau. “The wānanga are open to all Ngāti Porou members, with equal numbers of Nati’s living at home and Nati’s living away from home attending. We have Ngāti Porou teachers coming to the reo Wānanga as part of their professional development, University and secondary school students coming to strengthen their reo and extend their vocabulary and fluent speakers coming to share their knowledge.”

“The Porou Ariki Wānanga are also a good example of the old adage, ‘Na tou rourou me taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi’, in other words they are self-sufficient”, said Selwyn Parata, “which is important in terms of sustainability. Everyone attending pay’s an Apirana Ngata – a $50 note, our farms supply the meat, our fisheries company supplies the Kaimoana (seafood) and the Iwi Kāinga, the home people provide the ‘Kai o te Rangatira’-  the food of chiefs, the kōrero. The local marae and hapū sets the programme organises the speakers and the reo revitalisation activities.”

The next step in the Ngāti Porou Reo Strategy will be a Ngāti Porou Hui a Iwi on the strategy to seek feedback and endorsement from the iwi prior to finalising the implementation plan and budget.