Not long ago, I realised that I’m an expert in Māori. I can’t string two sentences together, get muri and mua mixed up constantly, and I need to use my fingers to count. But, hey, in my whānau, I’m the expert. My husband, though hugely supportive of me and my reo journey, isn’t enrolled in reo […]More
Politics & Culture
Stuff to do with stuff I care about.
My grandad grew bananas. I never got to eat one — the garden was off-limits to us kids. But the palms of that exotic tree swayed gently in the breeze above the garden walls, tempting us with its forbidden treats. A cousin bragged once that he’d snuck into the garden when no one was looking, […]More
Before I started learning Māori, the only time I ever came into contact with the language was on formal occasions. I could lip-synch at pōwhiri like a pro. I knew how to line up outside the marae and wait for the sound of the karanga to lift into the air and pull me forward, as if […]More
One of the most daunting things about sending our boy to boarding school was that, for the first six weeks, aside from handwritten letters, we weren’t allowed to have any contact with him. In the pre-email, pre-free calling era, this would have been fairly standard. Back in the day, boarding school parents didn’t have much choice […]More
For all that, 100 years ago, our kauri forests were no match for the blade of a saw. A single kauri might have been growing for thousands of years, but it could be brought to the ground in a matter of days. Read more.
The first assignment that ever captured my imagination at school was to devise a three-week tour of New Zealand. It was the 80s, the era of Top Town, a TV show where teams from different towns showed off what they could do. I knew we had beautiful scenery, but I was convinced that our most appealing places […]More
My mum forced me to take Japanese all through high school. She believed that a second language would open doors for me and that Japanese was the pick of the options. A passport to another life, she promised. The world at my bilingual feet. There was only one fly in the ointment. I hated Japanese. Instead, in […]More
A lot of people have asked if I’m fluent in Māori after my year of total immersion. The answer is absolutely … not! Sadly, there’s no such thing as a fast track when it comes to te reo Māori. That’s lesson one for you. Lesson two is that you have to go backwards into […]More