Māori film star embraces Te reo

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Wellington

Hunt for the Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison has become the latest face for this year's Māori Language Week. The Ngāti Hāua actor shares the challenges he faces as he learns his native language.

Dennison wants to use his new-found fame to send a message to the world.

“If you're Māori and you think speaking Māori is dumb it’s not dumb it’s amazing, it’s not something you say, it’s something you do, it’s a part of you.”

Acting has come naturally to the 13-year old star of - Hunt for the Wilder people. But his mum Mabelle Dennison says he has an even bigger challenge ahead of him.

“He didn't go to Kohanga but really pleased to say he's going to Hutt International Boys in Trentham and this year is the first year they have offered te reo through school.”

Ngāti Kahungunu chair, Ngahiwi Tomoana says, “He will experience those challenges, the ups and the downs of learning the Māori language. So he may be able to share his experiences with others who are also learning the language.”

Dennison was on set with director Julian Arahanga and fellow actor Tammy Davis filming promos for Māori Language Week. He says te reo is for everyone.

Dennison/Arahanga says, “All ages of people can learn te reo Māori and it can be challenging if you didn't get brought up in that family that learns te reo māori but talking te reo Māori, so yeah give it a go.”

So if this Wellington youngster has no reo can give it a go, what's stopping the rest of NZ?