22 August 2018

My Journey in Te Ao Maori

Kei te Haerenga ahau (I am journeying)
Photo Credit: Stephanie Soh

*(kei te haere tonu ahau)*

Two years ago I began working at the Parenting Place, which had been a long-held dream of mine, after I've been writing freelance for the magazine for years.
Unbeknown to me, my new workplace had begun a journey (haerenga) into Te Ao Maori (the Maori world) and I was swept up in it along with my workmates.
This is no tokenism, no surface level nod to Maoritanga, but a wholehearted journey, delving into who we are (as a nation, our history), where we've come from and what it means to be true Treaty partners.
Along the way, I've had the privilege of staying on a number of Marae around the country, including Te Tii Marae at Waitangi (where our nation's founding treaty was composed and signed) and Parihaka (the site of a terrible injustice perpetrated by the British in the 1880's).
The journey began for me as just simply something my work was doing, which I found interesting, but it has become something personal for me now - a personal odyssey and a challenge to discover who I am and where I belong.
This year I have had the privilege of beginning to learn Te Reo Maori with my a bunch of my workmates, during work time. I was worried my middle-aged half-speed brain would not cope with the challenge of learning a language, but so far I'm doing pretty well, passing all my tests and actually learning stuff. But the thing I've discovered is that learning Te Reo isn't just about learning to speak the words - it is about opening myself up to a whole new way of thinking, new ways of looking at the world and finding a deeper sense of belonging and identity in this whenua (land).
Today I completed a questionnaire sent out to all of us at work to "gauge the bi-cultural journey the Parenting Place has embarked on over the last three years..."

Here are some of my responses...