Panekiretanga graduation ushers in a new era

By Heta Gardiner

As a new generation of champions rise, a beloved champion retires. 23 graduates were capped by the Institute of Excellence in te Reo Māori (Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori) at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa's Raroera campus, however the announcement that one of the institution's main contributors is to retire has prompted questions over the institute's future.

Graduates were acknowledged with passionate haka by groups from Ngāti Porou, Raukawa and Tainui.

For the past 11 years, Te Panekiretanga o te Reo has guided expert Māori speakers to the next level. But the quality of recent intakes have been a concern.

Pou Temara, kaiako, “I agree, Te Manahau has said that we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.” 

Te Kāea has been told exclusively that the course as we know it, won't endure past the current intake. 

Kaiako Timoti Kāretu, was asked if this will this be the last intake of students under his and Pou's (Temara) tutelage? Kāretu replied, “Perhaps, yes. I started putting things in place today.”

The departure of Wharehuia Milroy as a teacher is another blow. But despite the sadness of his departure, there was celebration over all his many contributions. 

Temara says, “I give out the harsh criticism and he (Te Wharehuia) smoothes things over.”

Rawiri Waru alumnist says, ”He's a master. You've experienced it.”

“I suspect, even though he has stepped down as a teacher, he will still be around,” says aluminist Kingi Kiriona.

That is, if there is something for him to return to.

Kāretu says, “I hear quality te reo Māori being spoken, on TV, and all over but those speakers aren't inclined to apply. Perhaps that is a sign.”