Ngā Ia Taiheke o te reo Māori ki te Moutere o Matakana

Kaumātua Hinemotu Douglas rāua and Bobby Rolleston at their tipuna whare Tuwhiwhia. (Opureora Marae, Matakana Island).

Matakana, the sheltering island of the Tauranga Harbour, is also a sheltered haven for kaumātua and tamariki to learn te reo Māori as a whānau and community.   

Ngā Ia Taiheke o te reo Māori is a wānanga reo set up on the the island to re-establish the Marae environment as a safe space to learn te reo Māori, as well as history and waiata pertaining to the Island.   

Hinemotu Douglas, kaumātua and tauira of Ngā Ia Taiheke o te reo Māori says that it’s never too late to start your reo journey. “For me it’s mostly timing related, instead of age related. The reo for me is about being able to communicate and understand what my mokos are saying. I’m ready because I’m home, back on the marae” says Hinemotu.  

There are roughly 30 people of all generations and proficiency levels who attend these wānanga at Opureora Marae. The reo classes have been running for only one year through Te Mātāwai investment, yet the impact this kaupapa has had on the growth and confidence of Māori language speakers is worth bragging about.  

Some attendees are residents on the Island, and others are dedicated stalwarts who catch the barge over weekly via Omokoroa in Tauranga.   

While this kaupapa is in its infant years, the long-term goal is to encourage more people to return home through these wānanga and eventually make Māori the primary language on the island.  

“Learning at the marae, there are many advantages. It’s still great learning in classrooms, but if you can learn at home, there’s no comparison” says Rauangi Ohia, teacher of Ngā Ia Taiheke o te reo Māori.