Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023 kicks off Monday, September 11, with the theme Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori – making the language stronger. It’s all about giving it a go, because together, we can make the language stronger. Te wiki is an opportunity to introduce yourself to te reo or to try out some new words, knowing that your efforts will be praised and respected. It’s also a chance to celebrate the fact that we add te reo in our lives with a sense of pride. Wherever you’re at with te reo, building your knowledge means taking one small step at a time. You just never know how far or where such a journey it will take you.

David Parsons, Kaitohutohu Ahumahi at MPTT has found that setting out to learn te reo has opened up worlds beyond his imagination. He says now is better than ever before for people to embrace the language and encourages others to take the step.

“Te reo Māori is connected to my whakapapa. However, it was totally missing in my upbringing until my late teens. Then, I saw my mother promote and support reo Māori in business and kura. And now, at last, we’re recognised and rewarded for exploring our tikanga, whakapapa and language.”

“I’ve always been passionate about extending my knowledge and learning. In my roles at MPTT and BCITO, learning te reo is vital, and I’m being supported like never before. The timing is so right. Finally, I have all these options in front of me.”

Changing the way we work

David says learning whakapapa and tikanga is as important and is a part of learning the language. This has already changed the way he goes about his work. 

“I noticed the difference of being in a business meeting that follows tikanga. And I had the opportunity in my current company to take on different roles. Such as Pou tangata and now Kaitohutohu Ahumahi (Industry Advisor) here at MPTT. 

A worthy challenge

David says learning te reo has challenged him, but it’s all worth it. 

“It can feel awkward, and sometimes it feels like it’s not getting in.” 

“I need to work on my pronunciation – my vowels. But it opens up new worlds and reasoning that you might otherwise never have been aware of.”

Learning the bigger and deeper concept of words has brought understanding for David that he says is precious.

“Apprentices call me Matua, and now I get it. It gives you a different perspective.”

Three words in particular have a new, deeper place in David’s heart: Tikanga, whanaungatanga and whakapapa. A literal English translation can never really capture what these concepts mean. 

David says his kaiako Novi at Hoani Waititi Marae has played a big role in mentoring and inspiring him. He says one of his sayings has stuck with him. 

You can be the sheep and watch, or be the shepherd and lead.” 

“It’s up to you whether you step up.” 

He knows all MPTT trainees will understand this advice, and he’s pleased to share more encouragement.

Top tips in learning te reo

Here are David’s top three tips for MPTT trainees and anyone ready to explore te reo.

  • Every day is a chance to improve and be better. 
  • Find the right teacher for you – even if you need to try a few, don’t give up.
  • Most importantly, never lose sight of where you’ve come from. 

And here are a few simple phrases to get you started.

Aroha mai!Sorry / excuse me!
Ngā mihi nuiThanks so much
Ka raweHow are you?
E hoaFriend/mate
Kei te pēhea koe?That’s awesome
Kei te paiI’m good
Haere rāGoodbye (speaker is staying)
E noho rāGoodbye (speaker is leaving)
Mā te wāBye for now / see you later
Kia pai te rāHave a good day