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)*

In 2016 I began working at the Parenting Place, which had been a long-held dream of mine, after writing freelance for the magazine for years.
Unbeknown to me, my new workplace had begun a journey (haerenga) into te ao Māori (the Māori world) and I was swept up in it along with my workmates.
This was no tokenism or surface-level nod, 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 good Treaty partners.
Along the way, I 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 debated before the signing) 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.

In 2018 I had the privilege of beginning to learn te reo Māori with 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 I did OK, passing all my tests and actually learning stuff. But the main 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).
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...