Shear commitment to te reo Māori

By Regan Paranihi

For the very first time, organisers of the New Zealand Shearing Championships have brought in a te reo Māori advocate to assist commentators with the pronunciation of Māori names. 

Many Māori compete in the annual event held in Te Kūiti. President of the competition, Clair Grainger, says it was only right that they introduce the initiative. 

"We go to a lot of shearing competitions around the country and you hear commentators pronounce the Māori names or peoples names in general really, sometimes its just not very successful at all. SO we thought it was important that we started pronouncing people's names correctly."

Ngāti Maniapoto reo advocate Doug Ruki is the leading the initiative. He has spent the past few days having one-on-one sessions with commentators. 

Ruki says it's imperative Māori names are pronounced correctly, to ensure nothing is lost in translation. 

"The main thing is the pronunciation because there's a meaning to that name or to that town name. For example for waikākā or waikaka, Piopio rather then Piupiu."

Tumatahi Mullins, who is one of the commentators and MC, says the the fruits of this initiative are obvious. 

"My pakeha commentating mates some struggle a little but you could really tell that they were making the effort and I thought that was really good." 

Ruki is hopeful that this kind of initiative will continue as a part of the revitalization of the Māori language.

"We need to start here and then carry on in this direction so that they can also contribute to the revitalization of the language."

Mullins says it's an exciting new concept for the shearing community. 

"I think its probably one of the best things to happen for the Māori language in our industry and what we do at shearing sports because in the past its just been said how its spelled, there was no relation to our vowels or anything so it didn't sound good, like with what he's [Ruki] done. It's magic I believe."