I’ve purposely sat down to write this post during this year’s ‘Te Wiki o te reo Māori’ (“Māori Language Week”) to reflect, in (*what I hope will feel like) just the right amount of detail.
My most intimate experiences with this particular time of year have stemmed from my current vocation as an enthusiastic advocate of, and for, the Māori language – they’re the by-product of my decision to teach in a reo-speaking environment.
But they’re not the catalyst – the ‘prod’, if you like – for my level/s of participation and engagement in this specific week.
No-no, for me personally the prod to learn the reo and pro-actively concentrate on adding my voice to an ever-growing collective of committed “reo-lovers” came with the realisation and comprehension of the concept of ‘birth-right’.
We all know New Zealand was colonised by Europeans, and that her ‘Pākehā’-friendly foundations were built upon a spectacularly sketchy, brain-dead, “Motherland”-oriented mindset that Māori were just another group of bloody savages who needed civilising.
What tends to be forgotten – or at the very least unacknowledged, even now – is that these ‘savages’ comprise/d our ancestors, our blood, and when we take the time to gaze at their image, listen to all the stories (“the” stories, and their long version/s, mostly), and wonder, we see everything we are.
Well, I do.
In these moments I feel nothing but love, and the utmost respect, and gather the most profound sense/s of birth-right and self-potential.
I am them, and they are me; there’s nothing “savage”, here.
Of course, with everything else that gets “lost” (*read: strategically legislated out) during the colonisation of indigenous peoples, there is language loss, too.
There are many people who can’t seem to quite grasp this, but said loss actually leads to a pretty fucking fractured sense of self for those of us who are Māori, and who yearn heart-and-soul to honour our birth-right to te reo, and thus know and understand our own mother-tongue fluently.
I’ve observed, recognised, and acknowledged this first-hand in myself, and in others, too – my Dad, most poignantly for me.
The thing is, you can’t strip people of their own voice/s, and in all truth and authenticity expect this to be okay, because it’s so fucking not okay.
And the shit thing is, here in New Zealand “majority rules”, and Māori are the minority race. So, while the ‘great’ majority sit and criticise any effort to inject some reo Māori into the ‘mainstream’ – even mainstream schools, where all our Māori kids are, numbers-wise – and ask (not at all diplomatically, either): why(?), why do we have to see and hear this ever-irritating and bloody useless Māori (“mow-ri”, “ma-ree”, and other infinitely disrespectful mispronunciations), we too are asking what possible use English is for us, as we carry-out our own personal processes and journeys of self-discovery as Māori descendants who actually want to learn to speak te reo well.
Your language goes a long way in helping to shape your world-view, and in placing you physically and celestially in the ‘cosmos’ – your ‘cosmos’.
In this sense, there are celestial concepts (among others) that are only able to be explained by the use of te reo Māori, and (*on that note) many, many words that are not at all translatable to English.
So I think: just let us have our language, eh?
And, not simply in this, “Okay, I’ll tolerate this for a week or-so”, totes tokenism-rich, bullshit-laden, “skim-over for 7 days and keep ’em happy and quiet for the next year” kind of way.
Let’s fucking revitalise the shit out of this thing and allow Māori to thrive, finally.
You’ll have noticed that the title of this piece is in Māori. Loosely, it refers to one of our local landmarks, Rangituhi-Colonial Knob, as a highway to our Sky Father ‘Ranginui’. As ‘Te Rangiwhakataka’, he is further referenced and described as “the layer of heaven closest to our Earth Mother ‘Papatūānuku’, reaching down to the horizon to meet her” (you can read more about “Rangi” here).
Apt, given that ‘Rangituhi’ means “sky-glow”, and refers to the oft exceptionally red glow of its sunset/s.
Te Rangiwhakataka, working his magic.
In a nutshell (and today, I’d prefer this to be the ‘nutshell’ part, rather than the reo stuff), R-CK is the rangatira, the “big-chief” of Wellington walks. If you’re a hiker and you haven’t yet been there, you’re planning to; and if you’re up there fairly regularly like me, then you know well what you’re preferred route to the top is.
Personally, I prefer to take the stairs. The views are sublime, and there’s more on-offer, fitness-wise.
Of course, there’s always the choice of the 4WD track down the other side (past ‘Reservoir 2’, and back to the Broken Hill Road car-park), but this is nowhere near as interesting and scenic as the alternative (*left, down, and around to the left, on this map).
There is some associated elevation with R-CK – enough so, that certainly in autumn and winter there’s the need for another spare layer, or two.
The weather is also unpredictable enough that if you don’t have a strong sense of direction from the beginning (i.e., you’re a repeat visitor so you know the way, or it’s your first visit and you have a map on-hand), you may find yourself scrambling to find and see the trail-markers (*a combination of pink triangles (in the bush-line), and blue poles (on the hill-top/s)).
A thick fog can change everything up there – believe me:
Don’t let that deter you, though. Get up there, and have a solid nosey around. Take a mate, pack some treats, and have an awesome time with all the tubby kererū and cheeky tūī birds that’ll keep you company.
Nā runga i tērā: haere pai atu, hoki ora mai nei (no translation – just, you know, in honour of Māori Language Week, *grins*);