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Hīkoi celebrates language petition

A hīkoi through Masterton on Monday was organised by TKKM o Wairarapa principal Phillipa Rimene to celebrate 50 years since the Māori language petition was presented to Parliament. PHOTOS/FLYNN NICHOLLS

A hīkoi [march], marking 50 years since the Māori language petition was presented to Parliament, marched down Queen St in Masterton on Monday.

The crowd sang waiata, recited karakia, and waved Tino Rangatiratanga flags, marking the 50th anniversary of the petition and the beginning of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2022.

In 1972, members of Ngā Tamatoa and Te Rōpū Reo Māori the Te Reo Māori Society, delivered the Māori language petition, with over 30,000 signatures, to Parliament.

The petition asked for the Government to recognise Te Reo Māori officially and for schools to teach the language.

Many Kura Kapapa Māori [Māori language schools] were established after the petition was presented.

The hīkoi marched through central Masterton yesterday to celebrate the special day.

The hīkoi began in Moore Wilson’s car park.

Mei Manaia Warakihi Stevens leads karakia [blessing] before the hīkoi sets off for Māori Language Week 2022.
Mei Manaia Warakihi Stevens, kaiako [teacher] at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa [TKKM o Wairarapa] recited the opening karakia [blessing].

His booming orator’s voice echoed down the street.

The crowd comprised ākonga [students], matua [parents], teachers [kaiako], kaumatua [elders] and whanau [wider family].

The hīkoi travelled from Moore Wilson’s car park to the end of Queen St.

Phillipa Rimene [Pip or Whaea Pip], principal of TKKM o Wairarapa, organised the event.

The school is 31 years old this year.

Many other schools and kohanga reo [Māori kindergarten] were at the hīkoi.

Stevens and Akuera Nia Nia, two kaiako [teachers] at the senior school of TKKM o Wairarapa, helped lead the hīkoi.

Both were ex-students of the school and were in teacher training.

“You have to hope that students will come back; it’s our kaupapa coming to fruition,” Pip Rimene said.

Stevens is in his last year of teacher training. He has been speaking Māori his whole life.

“I have since I was born really, my parents always tried to korero [speak] Māori in the house, and then I was in kohanga reo and then Kura Kaupapa.”

He studied to be a teacher at Te Wananga O Raukawa in Otaki.

Nia Nia is in his first year at Massey University studying toward Te Aho Tātairangi: Bachelor of Teaching and Learning Kura Kaupapa Māori.

The senior curriculum at TKKM o Wairarapa involves Te Reo Māori, Wairarapa history and whakapapa, as well as toi [art].

Māori language week encourages people to spend a week speaking Te Reo Māori.

At TKKM o Wairarapa, they chose to organise an extra special event because they speak the language every day of the year.

Ana Ripa, teacher [kaiako] at TKKM o Wairarapa, said, “That’s why we organised this hīkoi.

“It’s the first time we’ve done it”.

The hīkoi culminated in the car park at the end of Queen St.

The crowd was filled with people of all ages – from kohanga reo babies to elderly kaumatua.

All the Tino Rangatiratanga flags were waving proudly in the wind.

Everybody from the hīkoi came together before departing and sang a stirring rendition of Purea Nei.



Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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