Topic: Te Reo Māori

Tāwhirimātea & Kataraina Williams finalists for Waka Toi Awards

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa

Te Reo Māori stalwarts Tāwhirimātea Williams MNZOM and Kataraina Williams QSO say that each region needs their own whare wānanga to teach their own unique dialects. The couple are finalist at The Waka Toi Awards nominated for the Sir Kingi Ihaka award recognising lifetime contribution. 

Husband and wife duo Tāwhirimātea and Kataraina (Kaa) Williams have taught the Māori language for over 40 years.

Tāwhirimātea says, "What's most important to us is that our students graduate as Māori language specialist and teachers equipped to teach children."

Kaa says, "Our priority is to enable our students to become advocates for the language within their own communities, families and tribe this is greatest benefit."

The pair started the first bilingual and then total immersion Māori medium school in New Zealand in Ruatoki. They strongly support that the Māori language should be taught in all schools throughout Aotearoa.

"The Māori Language is the indigenous language of this land so our language should be included as an integral part of our schooling system," says Tāwhirimātea.

"If our languages is lost, so to are our people. This is why there's a need for the language to be taught in all schools," Kaa says.

She also says that if more language providers like Te Wānanga Takiura o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori were to open in the regions, the language and dialects would flourish.

"Every regional dialect of NZ is absolutely beautiful to hear. If we nurture regional language, the language as a whole will thrive. This is what Tāwhiri and I hope for."

Tonight the Waka Toi awards will take place in Wellington. This couple will continue on their work for the language and Māori education. 

"We are humbled being finalist however for us its all about the revitalisation of our language and cultural traditions."