Topic: Te Reo Māori

Celebrating the unique language of the East Coast

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

Thousands have turned out in Turanga Nui a Kiwa on the East Coast to celebrate the rich history and unique dialect of the region.

Songs of today and those from long ago echoed throughout the main streets of Turanga Nui a Kiwa.

From toddlers to elders, a great mass of those who descend from Māui gathered in the center of the town.

Derek Lardelli is acting as an ambassador for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

He says  “East Coast language, Māori language, the language of Māui, we're sending a message to our children and grandchildren in the language nests of Te Tairawhiri, 'spread your wings and fly to the world, the world is yours, the language is yours'.”

The crowd watched the film Moana in te reo Māori which was translated by Waldo Houia of Ngāti Porou, while the songs for the film were recorded by Rob Ruha of Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Apanui and Rongowhakaata.

Ngāti Porou elder Taina Ngarimu is one of the voices behind the Te Reo Māori version of the film.

An elder at Te Kohanga Reo o Tomairangi, he says for the language to hold presence within the plethora of other languages it is imperative for parents to teach their own children and also the children of others.

 “If we feed it to them they will take to it and when they are around five years old they will grasp it and they will not lose it,” says Ngarimu.

Ngāti Porou elder Kuini Moehau Reedy says, “We've come together to let the world feel the presence and authority of our language. This language is derived from the land, it originates from our ancestors from the beginning of time through to now.”

As opposed to a protest, the gathering was a celebration to enable the younger ones to see and hear the power and prestige of their own unique language.

Kuini Moehau Reedy says, “Our voice has been felt, the town here has felt it, their ears heard, that's something else is that we have our language and when those who hear it work with us it will flourish.”

Tributes flowed to those who maintained the life-force of the language of the East Coast.