South Island iwi up for Māori Language Award

1:17 pm on 24 November 2017

A South Island iwi is teaching their rangatahi about who they are and where they come from.

The Mana Rangatahi programme teaches Ngāti Apa youth about who they are and where they come from.

The Mana Rangatahi programme teaches Ngāti Apa youth about who they are and where they come from. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō recognised a need to ensure the future of the iwi will always have leaders equipped with knowledge about their iwi and know how to speak te reo Māori with their Mana Rangatahi programme.

They've since received a Māori Language Award nomination for their programme in the youth category.

Some of the country's leading Māori language champions will be honoured at the Māori Language Awards in Wellington tonight.

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō are among 23 other finalists who have been selected from the arts, business, education, youth and government sectors.

They were chosen from more than 100 nominations - the highest number ever received for the awards.

The chief executive of the Māori Language Commission, Ngahiwi Apanui, said the awards recognise the innovative ways te reo Māori has been used this year.

He says the commission's objective is to see Aotearoa become a Māori language domain.

Cultural advisor of the programme Kiley Nepia says Mana Rangatahi was developed as a response to the widely felt shortage of reo Māori speakers and cultural practitioners throughout the Motu.

"We were bereft of our kaumātua, we were bereft of people who could do those cultural roles and so these young kids of ours who are aged from 18 through to 12 - they are already up taking and starting to take on some of the responsibility as cultural practitioners for he iwi."

The iwi now has an abundance of young people who are competent in te reo and knowledgeable in the histories of the iwi.

Kiley Nepia said rangatahi learn about who they are as Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō by seeing the very places that they recite in their pepeha.

"Rather than our kids just rope learning their pepeha or their tribal saying, where they talk about their mountain, their river and those types of things, they can actually say I've climbed to my mountain, I've swam in my river, I know what it feels like so when they are talking about those things they feel a real connectivity."

Tamati James Wilson, 19, went to the very first Mana Rangatahi programme in 2013 and said it completely changed the way he saw himself as a young Māori man.

"I learned to stand confidently being Māori. Before then I was a little bit ashamed to be Māori because of how I was treated at school, but when I went to that wānanga it really gave me a lot of insight about being Māori and just more specifically, being Ngāti Apa."

Mr Wilson is just one of many rangatahi to go through the six day wānanga - a programme rich in teachings of te reo, tikanga, waiata and cultural roots.

He said it inspired him to use his knowledge and area of study to one day give back to his iwi.

"I'm studying to be a teacher at the moment and with that dream is to come back to my rohe and to my iwi and teach my own people."

Chief Executive of the Māori Language Commission Ngāhiwi Apanui said the awards highlight New Zealand's reo Māori champions.

"What we're looking at is taking the language to places it has not been taken before. People talk about Māori language domains, well our objective is to make the whole of Aotearoa New Zealand a Māori language domain."

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