Celebrating Te Reo Māori in 2014

Māori Language Week 2014! To celebrate the Te Papa Education team offered teachers something new, as 37 teachers from all over Wellington, ranging from ECE to intermediate school, joined together to grow and support Te Reo Māori in the classroom. We played a range of kēmu to get the blood and the brain pumping, like wharewhare, using the 50 kupu for a bingo game.

Pic of MLW 2014 bingo

MLWBingo2014, Photographer: Khali Philip-Barbara © Te Papa


The teachers worked together to draw as many kupu as they could from each other, inspired by Robyn Kahukiwa images. Many teachers surprised themselves by how many kupu they had stored away.

 Ko hine te iwaiwa, ko hine korako, ko rona whakamau tai, 1993, New Zealand. Kahukiwa, Robyn. Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Ko hine te iwaiwa, ko hine korako, ko rona whakamau tai, 1993, New Zealand. Kahukiwa, Robyn. Purchased 1995 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa

Then they were sent out into the whare taonga to bring to life one of the many pūrakau we have here in Te Papa using the exhibition spaces as their stage. We had a range of pūrakau from Maui and the Sun and Kupe and Muturangi’s giant wheke to four tōtiti in the hangi pit and everything in between.

“Ahakoa he iti, he iti mapihi pounamu – Although it is small, it is still a precious gem” is one of my favorite verses to read from Te Aho Matua at school. Not for its deep and powerful meaning, but. for its simplicity, captured in 7 words.

Here’s another saying – ‘tu whitia te hopo’, feel the fear and do it anyway. The thought of reading aloud, no matter the language, makes my stomach churn, even to this day. I respect the challenge teachers must face to stand in front of peers and the general public and perform, especially in another language. All the teachers that participated embodied this saying to the fullest throughout this day.

Maui, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Maui, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa


It was said in Tā Kīngi Matutaera Īhaka’s He Īnoi Kia Mau Te Reo Māori (1987 the launch of the Māori Language Commission) “ Kia kaua e te Matua e tukua tēnei tino taonga kia rite ki te moa ka ngaro, engari whakakahangia mātou katoa ki te ako, ki te pupuri kia mau, kia ita, hei koha mā mātou ki te ao… – I sent them back with the challenge of helping the next generation to feel ownership of Te Reo Maori – the beautiful and unique language of Aotearoa so it won’t be like the moa, lost for ever – Te Reo Māori, our unique gift to the world.

If you are a classroom teacher and would like to attend our next professional development workshop, sign up to our education e-newsletter and we’ll invite you along. We’d also love to hear your comments. What new things would you like to learn at Te Papa that will help with your classroom teaching?

Kupu Hou

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