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Iwi and agencies celebrate te reo

Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park will be a hive of activity tomorrow as local iwi and community agencies gather in a show of Kotahitanga [unity] to celebrate the revitalisation of te reo Māori and acknowledge an iconic Wairarapa prophet.

On March 16, 1881, Wairarapa prophet Paora Pōtangaroa prophesied that Māori would lose their reo [language] but that it would come back again through their mokopuna [grandchildren].

Te Poropiti Te Ōhākī o Paora Pōtangaroa is a day for all the whānau [family] that will feature a variety of games and activities that focus on engaging with the tamariki and rangatahi [children and young people] of Wairarapa and is being held in conjunction with various community agencies – with some of them delivering traditional Māori sports [Ngā Taonga Tākaro].

Raumahora Waata of Rangitāne explained that the day is significant for a number of reasons although the primary one is the prophecy of Pōtangaroa coming to fruition through younger generations that have attended Kura kaupapa, wharekura, Kōhanga reo, or simply learned te reo.

Waata said there are more fluent speakers and more people learning te reo, including older generations too.

“If you learn your reo, you learn your tikanga,” she said, and vice versa.

Waata spoke of iwi who were strong in their reo and strong in their tikanga and had “[looked] after us until such time that we were able to stand again in our mana”.

Tomorrow will be a day to celebrate the “revitalisation of our reo and our tikanga”.

Waata noted that this is a day to celebrate as it is a day “owned by us and celebrated by us and for us”.

Attendees of the day are asked to try kōrero Māori on the day, even if this is as simple as saying “tēnā koe”, “kia ora”, or “ka kite”, “to enhance and to remember the reason as to why we’re wanting to celebrate Te Ōhākī o Paora Pōtangaroa”.

Whānau are encouraged to bring a picnic, gather together, and enjoy the day.

Rangitāne o Wairarapa chief executive Mihirangi Hollings said she is excited about the day and “coming together” to celebrate the revitalisation of te reo Māori and Pōtangaroa’s prophecies.

“In this day and age, we can see how they have been fulfilled.”

Hollings noted that Kōhanga reo and Kura kaupapa have been operating for 40 years in the region.

“That’s bringing our language back through our kids,” she said.

Hollings believes it is important for the community to be aware of the historical relevance of the places and spaces they live.

“Most of our tangata te Tiriti won’t know about Pōtangaroa or about that ōhākī [prophecy], and this is an opportunity for us to talk and share some of that knowledge about a prominent person in Wairarapa from a Māori perspective.”

Sponsors and supporters of the event include Rangitāne o Wairarapa Inc, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust, and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua Settlement Trust.

Other community agencies, people, and kura participating include Mike Kawana, Mike Hollings, Warren Maxwell, Māori Wardens, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori ō Wairarapa, Wharekura students, Nuku ora, Te Hauora, Police, S.A.S.S fit gym, Police Iwi liaison team, Tāne Ora, Tūranga Rau, Flex fitness, Masterton District Council, Oranga Tamariki, Cancer Society, Eastwoods, and Moore FM.

The event runs from 10am until 2pm at Queen Elizabeth Park, and from 2pm attendees there will be free entry to the pools at the Trust House Recreation Centre.

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