One thousand aspirations for Ngāi Tahu reo

To date, more than 4500 whānau are registered with a Ngāi Tahu strategy, which aims to have at least 1000 Ngāi Tahu homes speaking te reo by 2025. Kotahi mano kaika, kotahi mano wawata began in 2000. Lynne Te Aika of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu says they've still got a long way to go.

For Kura Kaupapa graduates Alex Solomon and Tamahou Thoms, learning te reo has opened many doors.

Solomon started his reo journey five years ago, he says, "It's more than just media and kapa haka."

Thoms says "Kura helped my reo to flourish, it wasn't always easy. There were many challenges but it shaped me to speak confidently in te reo."

They're two of nearly 5000 Ngāi Tahu individuals who are registered with Kotahi Mano Kāika, a programme for Ngāi Tahu descendents committed to learning te reo Māori. The programme includes Kura reo, Marae noho, youth and environmental wānanga and treks throughout the South Island.

"I've benefitted a lot from its programmes. I wouldn't be as confident as I am now if it wasn't for them," Solomon says.

Despite the achievements over the past 17 years, Te Taumatua General Manager, Lynne Te Aika says Ngāi Tahu still have a long way to go.

“Out of 580,000 registered Ngāi Tahu, we have over 4000 registered whānau. It's still a good number because it has increased. But at the same time so is our populace so we can't be complaisant. There's still a long road ahead to reinvigorate te reo o Ngāi Tahu and instil in our youth that confidence and pride to speak te reo.”

But the iwi is confident the number of families participating will further normalise te reo Māori in the home.