Te Arawa’s new māngai to Te Mātāwai

By Herewini Waikato

Te Mātāwai Te Arawa māngai Bryce Murray takes over from the  late Muriwai Ihakara



Newly selected Te Mātāwai Te Arawa māngai Bryce Murray is keen to ask the government to spend more on Māori language revitalisation.

He said he had seen a change in his people in learning te reo and customs.

“It is going well but could do better,” Murray said.

Murray is still to go through an official process in Poneke by Te Mātāwai but he was seleted in Sunday afternoon’s meeting in Te Ao Mārama House in Ohinemutu, Rotorua.

Murray will also become the new chairman of the Te Arawa Maataawai panel known as Te Pae Motuhake a Te Arawa.

Murray intends to call on the government for more funding for the revitalisation of the Māori language.

‘Open your pockets’

The 2021 government Budget gave $1.4 billion to mainstream schools and early learning centres over 10 years and Māori education in its entirety $150 million.

“Government, open your pockets and give us enough funding so we can grow and foster the Māori language,” Murray said.

He said there were not enough funds allocated to Te Mātāwai and there was a lack of resources available but he was determined to see better help in the near future.

Communities nominated four Te Arawa advocates for te reo to fill the position of the late Muriwai Ihakara. In the end, Murray came out on top.

The selection came after some concerns were aired, with some arguing for the right person for the role to be strong and courageous and to fight for the language. For others it was finding someone who had been advocating for the revitalisation of the language for many years. There were also concerns over a low number of attendees with only 15 present. However, notice had been sent out weeks in advance and the meeting continued and a person was nominated to lead.

’Big shoes to fill’

 “Bryce has some big shoes to fill those of the late Muriwai Ihakara but we know he can do it and he is riding on our backs for support, and we Te Mātāuru ki Te Arawa are here to help him also,” Kahui o Te Mātāuru ki Te Arawa ‘s Ruakiri Fairhall said.

Te Mātāwai was established in 2016 by Te Ture o te reo Māori (the Māori Language Act) and works in partnership with the Crown under the public policy framework, Te Whare o te reo Mauriora. Te Mātāwai continues to help fund initiatives to revitalise the Māori language, and bring it to homes, whānau, hapu, and iwi. 

Six years on and more and more people are learning te reo throughout Te Arawa, with face-to-face wānanga and online wānanga the two big drawcards.

“I see, feel and hear more people joining the wave of learning the Māori language, so I have no doubt it is growing here in Te Arawa,” Fairhall said. “

Te Mātāwai funding applications for all iwi closed today, Monday, February 28, 2022.