IT’S NOT THAT ONE CULTURE IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER. BUT PĀKEHĀ NORMS AND VALUES ARE SO DOMINANT IN NEW ZEALAND, THEY’RE INVISIBLE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. PĀKEHĀ OFTEN THINK CERTAIN WAYS OF DOING THINGS ARE NORMAL, WHEN IN FACT THEY’RE FOLLOWING CUSTOMS AND RITUALS THAT ARE BASED ON A SET OF VALUES THAT MAY BE ENTIRELY FOREIGN TO OTHERS.
There’s a saying, a whakataukī, that reminds us that the kūmara doesn’t speak of its own sweetness. My Nanama was big on that. Waiho mā te tangata e mihi: leave it to others to sing your praises. In te ao Māori, being full of yourself isn’t cool. Trouble is, most of the time, we’re living in a […]More
Last night I dreamed in Māori. They say that when you start dreaming in another language, that’s when you know you’re becoming fluent. I am not fluent. I am nowhere near fluent. But over the past six months I’ve begun to think that maybe, one day, I might be. I was enrolled in a rumaki course […]More
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
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