Topic: Te Reo Māori

Te reo a driving force behind the wheel

By Leah Te Whata

A VTNZ driving coach is putting the Māori language in the driving seat. Richard Waihi conducted a full driver's licence test completely in te reo Māori, debunking the opinion that the Māori language has no use in the real world.

Tawaroa Kawana is getting road-legal in his native language.

“I'm doing this because I want our Māori language to be spoken more widely here in New Zealand," he says.

 Kawana is driving for the normalisation of the Māori language and has issued a challenge to all speakers of te reo to use the language outside of Māori settings.

“Whether the language lives or dies is our responsibility. Don't be embarrassed to speak it anywhere. To quote the words of the song Maimoa, the language is yours and it is mine.”

It's the first time VTNZ driving coach Richard Waihi has conducted a test completely in te reo but he hopes it won't be the last.

Waihi says, "I'm so happy. Even though my reo is limited, when he asked to be tested in Māori I was glad to do it."

Kawana says, “When Richard agreed to do the test in te reo Māori I didn't mind whether I passed or not. In that moment something told me that our language is at a point where it's alive and well.”

Although te reo Māori was the star of the day, Tawaroa Kawana was pleased to join the full licence club.