Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori

Heddell Raerino

Tuesday, 14 Sep 2021

By Toi Ohomai Expert:

Heddell Raerino, Kura Māori Associate Dean

Raising awareness and putting te reo at the forefront is the backbone of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori but Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Kura Māori Associate Dean Heddell Raerino hopes the awareness week won’t be needed in the future.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is an annual event in which New Zealanders are encouraged to embrace te reo, one of the country’s official languages. 

Heddell says there is a growing groundswell of support for te reo Māori.
“Hopefully we won’t need a Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori in the future as it will be a natural part of all aspects of Aotearoa NZ.”

Heddell first started at Toi Ohomai legacy institute Waiariki Institute of Technology in 1998, in 2003 he left to pursue other challenges but returned in 2015. 

Before entering the education sector, he was working in film and television, mostly as a freelance sound recordist but “doing anything that was on offer”. 

“Whilst filming a lot of Māori language content programmes I felt I really needed to improve my grasp of te reo Māori. Firstly, for my own personal self-growth but also to fully appreciate all the kōrero I was privileged to record at the time.

“Once you’re hooked into the reo it becomes a passion and teaching is one of the best ways to learn and also to solidify what you’ve learnt.”

Heddell is a firm believer in ongoing learning and his mahi embodies that. 

“I’m always looking to improve the way I/we do things regardless of what the kaupapa is. Ongoing learning is a key to making that a reality. It’s exciting and satisfying to learn new ideas and ways of doing things.”

Heddell says whilst the entrenched attitude of some old-school stalwarts is a current impediment to the reo Māori movement, having the resources to meet demand and making sure those resources are of the highest quality brings the greater challenge.

“I always remember Sir Apirana Mahuika saying, ‘just because someone can speak te reo doesn’t make them a teacher of te reo’.  That’s where that ongoing learning comes in and improving what we’re doing.” 

The most common barrier for people wanting to learn te reo is the fear that they are too old or no good at languages.

“Unfortunately, whilst there isn’t a magic pill that makes you fluent in te reo overnight, like anything, with time and effort you will get there. Often learners feel their progress is slow but there is a tipping point and whilst that varies from person to person, once you get there, your ear becomes tuned and things start to make sense.”

Heddell says there are some easy steps people can take to feel more confident in using te reo. 

“It can be as simple as incorporating new kupu into your everyday use. Get comfortable with those well used words. Listen to the reo being spoken as well, tune your ear in, listen to waiata, TV programmes. It can even be by attending pōhiri at Ihenga, Pomare, Te Tahinga o Rā and at your local campus. But take the leap and enrol on our Te Reo Māori programmes.”

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