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Wahine Māori teenager, Jessica Crawford-Pardoe (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Rongowhakaata), has found her home studying te reo Māori and developed a deeper connection to te ao Māori.
“Seeing our culture thrive is the biggest aspiration any possible Māori could have," says 18-year-old Crawford-Pardoe, who graduated from Gisborne Girls’ High School last year and is now studying for a Diploma in Te Reo Māori (Immersion).
"By studying this, it helps with the revitalisation and keeping our language alive for future generations ahead of me.”
Her mum teaches te reo Māori to adults and has been a big motivator but Crawford-Pardoe says her own journey with te reo hasn’t been consistent.
“I’ve been around reo nearly my whole life, but I didn’t learn it as a kid. I started off at mainstream and it wasn’t until I was seven or so that I started my reo journey. Then from there, I was at Kura Kaupapa and then back to mainstream at Gisborne Girls’ High School.”
Having time to learn consistently through full immersion has made a huge difference, she says.
“Having come from a mainstream school, with only one hour of learning te reo Māori to a whole day of learning it, it is definitely different,” says Crawford-Pardoe, who is now studying at EIT Te Whatukura polytech in Tairāwhiti.
“It has been really cool, especially coming from secondary school where you’re always with people that are the same age as you; never anyone younger or older.
“It’s been good getting to study with older generations because they’re wiser and bring more knowledge to our studying," says Crawford-Pardoe.