Hold on to your language

Wanting you to grow up with the Māori language has always been a dream and priority for me.  In my life, I’ve seen how hard it has been to learn it as you get older, and I’ve wished so many times that I was taught from a young age.  Mum and Dad tried – they sent us girls off to a Māori boarding school.  This was awesome for our culture.  We lived and breathed kapahaka which I grew to love.  There was the perfect chance for me to learn the language and leave fluent.  Unfortunately, this never happened – missed opportunity.  Not on my part.  So as I grew older, I took papers at university and enrolled in reo classes where I could.  Now I read books and reading books in Māori to you is actually really helpful.  Thank goodness too for the Māori dictionary app!  If I don’t know a word I just look it up and bam – got it.  I’m still on the journey son to fully gaining our language but I’m not going to give up.

So with you, I made the conscious decision to speak to you in te reo Māori as much as I possibly could.  After the first three zombie months passed (phew!) I was able to think about this more and put it into practice.  Thinking back now, I could have tried harder, but as time has gone on I’ve put more and more effort in as I see and hear you responding.  I decided to translate whatever I would say into English initially.  This was to both help Papa and anyone around, but also to give you both languages.  Now I feel we’re at the stage where I can say most things solely in Māori.  This seems to be paying off.  I’ve noticed you are starting to speak mainly to me in Māori, and everyone else in English.  You’re cottoning on fast, who to ‘kōrero’ to and who may not understand.

I know you’re going to learn English without me even trying to teach you.  It’s the main language we hear everywhere.  But Māori isn’t.  If you go to Kōhanga Reo or Kura Kaupapa you will hear it there too.  So it’s a challenge, to keep on speaking it, learning it and ultimately loving it.   Kia kaha son, in spite of challenges before you.  In spite of others not speaking, keep going.  I know it will pay off in the long run.  The language is the key to keeping our culture alive and the key to many more doors for you.  Kia mau ki tō reo Māori.

Mama x

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