Corporal (CPL) Te Rina Naden and Sergeant (SGT) Mikayla Paora have been given the opportunity to take part in a 10-month full-immersion te reo Māori course at Te Wānanga Takiura o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa in Auckland.
The chance to take on the study full-time, while still being paid by the Air Force has meant the pair has been able to fully embrace the language and everything it brings with it.
“The reason I took on the course was for my own cultural identity. The true benefit for me is more self-discovery and to broaden my language competency,”
CPL Naden said. “Learning about tikanga and reclaiming my language has made me the happiest I have ever been,” said CPL Naden.
SGT Paora said she felt there aren’t many people in the Air Force who speak te reo Māori, whakaaro Māori (think) and know tikanga Māori (customs).
“I really want to strengthen all aspects of my Māori competency and be in more of a position to give it back to the Air Force community, so as to normalise it within day-to-day Air Force life. There are so many beautiful practices and ways of thinking within te ao Māori which I think the Air Force can really benefit from.”
As Matariki passes, both CPL Naden and SGT Paora said this year has felt different after learning more about the celebration.
CPL Naden said she now had a proper understanding of the significance it has to Māori.
“I knew about the stars and which star is which – they all have their own names and mana, but I didn’t properly understand how to look for the signs, what they look like and how they relate to you and your iwi.
“I knew it was a marker of a new year in te ao Māori however, I didn’t really know how to celebrate it, other than going out and having a look at the stars. There are certain signs that you look for and they correlate to different parts of your environment, the taiao,” she said.
“It’s also about the moon and everything the environment signals to you – the way the environment changes and the different phases of the moon and the position of the sun.
It makes you realise how incredible our ancestors were. Now that we have this knowledge and it has been recognised and will be a public holiday, we can celebrate it genuinely.”
SGT Paora said she felt more informed about how Matariki involved everything in the environment and how her ancestors operated.
“It’s been an amazing journey learning about Matariki and the insight it gives into the life our ancestors lived. They lived according to the environment – there were no clocks or Monday–Sunday calendars prior to colonisation. I’m really pleased Matariki will be a public holiday next year - I would love for everyone in Aotearoa to learn about it and celebrate it.”
“Ko te mātauranga e kore e toha, kāore i te mātauranga”
Knowledge that isn’t shared, isn’t knowledge.
Kua whiwhi a Corporal (CPL) Te Rina Naden (Te Aitanga a Hauiti) rāua ko Sergeant Mikayla Paora (Ngā Puhi, Tainui) i te whiwhinga mahi ki te ako rumaki reo i tēnei tau kei Te Wānanga Takiura o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa kei Tāmaki Makaurau.
Ko tēnei whiwhinga mahi ki te whai ako ukiuki i te wā kōtahi e utua ana rāua e Te Tauaarangi, ka taea e te tokorua te whai arotahi i te reo me ōna tikanga anō hoki.
E ai ki a CPL Naden, “Ko te take i pīrangi ahau ki te ako i tēnei ākonga kia rapua ai ko wai au, ko wai tōku ahurea, ā, kia whakapakari ai i tāku reo”. I mea mai ia, “ko te akoranga e pā ana ki ngā tikanga me te whakahoki anō o tāku reo rangatira he mea kua ngata katoa te ngākau”.
Hei tā SGT Paora, kāore i te maha ngā tāngata a Te Tauaarangi e taea te kōrero Māori, whakaaro Māori, e mōhio ana i ngā tikanga hoki.
“Nā reira ko tāku wawata, ka whakapakari ahau i tōku Māoritanga kia whakahoki ai i ēnei taonga ki Te Tauaarangi hei whakamāori i te reo kei roto i te whānau whānui. He maha ngā ritenga ātaahua me ngā momo whakaaro i roto i te ao Māori ka whai hua mai Te Tauaarangi.”
I te putanga mai a Matariki i tēnei tau, he rerekē ō rāua whakaaro me pēhea te whakanui i tēnei kaupapa hirahira i te ao Māori.
E ai ki a CPL Naden, e tino mōhio ana ia i te hiranga o Matariki ki te iwi Māori ināianei.
“I mōhio kē ahau i ngā whetū, ā, ko wai ia whetū mē ō rātou ingoa, mana hoki engari kāore au i mōhio me pēhea te kimi i ngā tohu o ia whetū, me pēhea ō rātou āhua me te hononga ki ngā iwi.”
“E mōhio kē ana ahau he tohu o te tau hōu Māori a Matariki heoi anō, kāore au i tino mōhio me pēhea te whakanui, tū atu i te haere kei waho ki te titiro atu ki ngā whetū. He nui ngā tohu o ngā whetū me ngā hononga ki te taiao,” i mea a CPL Naden.
“Hāunga tērā, he mea nui te marama me ngā tohu o te taiao - ko te panoni haere o te taiao, ngā mata rerekē o te Marama me te nohonga a Tamanui Te Rā i te rangi. E mārama ana ahau ko ō tātou tīpuna te mutunga kē mai o aua mātauranga.
Ināianei, ka taea e māua te whakanui motuhenga, otirā ia, ka taea e tātou katoa te whakanui a Matariki ā te wā e heke mai ana, “ hei tā CPL Naden.
E ai ki a SGT Paora, e whaimōhio ake ana ia mō te mahi a Matariki ki ngā mea katoa o te taiao me ngā mahi ā ōna tūpuna.
“Kua tino mīharo tēnei haerenga ki te ako e pā ana ki a Matariki me te māramatanga a te oranga o ō tātou tūpuna. I ora rātou e ai ki te taiao – karekau ngā karaka, māramataka Rāhina-Rātapu i mua i te tāmitanga. Kei te harikoa tōku ngākau ki te mōhio he rā whakatā ā-ture a Matariki ā tērā tau. Ko tāku tumanako, ka ako te katoa o Aotearoa e pā ana ki a Matariki kia whakanui ai.”
“Ko te mātauranga e kore e toha, kāore i te mātauranga.”
Article originally published in Air Force News 238(external link)