Whakatū hosts first Te Tai Tonga Reo Summit

By Te Ao - Māori News

Te Pae Motuhake o Te Tai Tonga chair Paulette Tamati-Elliffe says the summit brings together all iwi of the South Island for the first time since Te Mātāwai was in 2018, to discuss the various iwi-lead te reo revitalisation initiatives in Te Waipounamu.

“As the 11 iwi of Te Tai Tonga, this is the first opportunity we’ve had to come together," Tamati-Elliffe says. "Through the process of sharing and talking about the things that have and haven’t worked we should feel inspired and encouraged - everyone has something to contribute and everyone has something to learn.”

Barlow Anderson, one of the organisers of this weekend's summit says the hui is the result of the various iwi and language groups in the region investigating the investments and initiatives amongst the cohort, and Te Pae Motuhake o Te Tai Tonga, the hub supported by Te Mātāwai to look after the interests of the southern region and the Chatham Islands decided to convene leading language revitalisation experts together.

"At the moment those who're making submissions are focusing on language revitalisation initiatives such as Kura Reo and wānanga but we as Te Pae Motuhake o Te Tai Tonga want to broaden our horizons when it comes to language revitalisation. We want to look elsewhere, we want to look at cohorts that focus on our youth, our elders to bring more of a variety in Te Tai Tonga," says Anderson. 

The summit will also focus on the crucial role rangatahi have in helping restore Te Reo Māori for future generations.

Blenheim based reo champion Kiley Nepia (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāi Tahu) is one of more than 140 people attending the summit and says it takes a lot of effort to revitalise a language, describing it as “a marathon and not a sprint”.

“It only takes a generation to lose a language, it takes three generations to restore it, so the summit is a great opportunity for like-minded people to come together to feed off each other, to get reinvigorated and revitalised so that we can go back out there and fight the long fight, because it really is a marathon.”

Tamati-Elliffe says as the next generation of parents and leaders, future success rests in the hands of rangatahi, so they will be a major focus of the summit.

“We must support and prepare our rangatahi to be the parents we want them to be, because we want them to be raising their tamariki in Te Reo Māori. The best way to naturalise our language is in the home, so when we look at the intergenerational transmission of Te Reo Māori they are a key agent in this kaupapa. It’s a lot of pressure on our rangatahi, but the more we can prepare them for being those parents, the better.”

The summit at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson runs over three days from 16-18 July. There is a diverse line-up of speakers leading iwi revitalisation initiatives who will share their stories and a series of interactive workshops.