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A few years ago NSPR began its hīkoi (journey), seeking to improve our understanding of te ao Māori and what is required for our organisation to be a dependable Treaty partner. We’ve shared various snippets of our experiences and learnings along the way, hoping to encourage other organisations to also commit to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to listen and evolve.

From an individual perspective, each NSPR team member has followed their own path in parallel to NSPR’s hīkoi, which are shared below. Through various opportunities, and by engaging with people who supported us, we have learned a lot, laughed a lot, grown a lot. More significantly, we believe we have become better people and a better company for embarking on this journey.

Kate: I’m really proud of the NSPR team’s willingness, passion and dedication to being good Te Tiriti partners, and it’s great to see everyone showing up in their own way – what matters is that we’re all moving together in the same direction. I’m enjoying working through Māori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison. Breaking it down into 30-minute chunks means I can schedule it around my day, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming. My goal is that by Waitangi Day 2025, I’ll be further along in my own journey of understanding the fundamentals of te reo and I hope, as a country, we’re also moving in the right direction when it comes to supporting tangata whenua.

Josie: I’m really enjoying learning my pepeha and whakapapa, which connects me to my great-great-great-great-nana, Pakewa, who signed Te Tiriti in Wellington on 29th April 1840.

Rebecca: Niki’s te reo Māori journey has helped inspire all of us to become good Te Tiriti partners. For me, it has been a determined journey to master the pronunciation of my pepeha and develop confidence in speaking it aloud. Languages are definitely not my forte, but regular practice within the safe space of our fortnightly team hui meant that, at our NSPR event for media and clients back in December, I could say my pepeha as part of a welcoming speech. The next step in my journey is to learn a karakia and to continue learning about the fundamentals of te reo and being tangata Tiriti.

Tom: Having lived and worked overseas for a number of years, I’m now settled back in Aotearoa with a young whānau and enjoying learning more about te ao Māori. Through NSPR, I am really just starting my journey, which has begun with learning, understanding and practising karakia. I recently recited my first karakia at our NSPR hui; now, my focus is on my learning my pepeha with the continued support of the NSPR team. Kia ora!

Robyn: In April 2023, I took my kids (14 and 12) to the Bay of Islands for a holiday. We did all the usual touristy activities, and because they had just been learning about Waitangi Day at school, we visited to the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi. To be truthful, expectations were not high: for them, it felt a little too close to schoolwork to be exciting! However, from the moment we embarked on our guided tour, all three of us were hooked.

We followed our guide from Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi to Ngātokimatawhaorua (the ceremonial waka) to the lawn in front of the Treaty House, as she laid out the twists and turns of the Waitangi story, then handed us over for an incredible pōwhiri and cultural performance in Te Whare Rūnanga. My kids were enthralled from start to finish, and so was I, and at the end of our visit we agreed that it was something anyone living in Aotearoa should experience. Why do so many schools take their students overseas when they have never been to the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi?

Before heading back to the carpark, we stood under the flagstaff where, in many ways, the concept of tangata Tiriti was born, talking about how the landscape has changed since 1840. If truly understanding our history is the key to being tangata Tiriti (a person of the Treaty), then I believe a visit to Waitangi is a fantastic place to start.

Niki: In Aotearoa, every day is Waitangi Day – that’s what being a good te Tiriti partner means to me. I didn’t always think this way though, simply because I didn’t know. My te reo Māori journey began not as a language journey but as one to understand the history of Aotearoa better. It dawned on me that, aged 53, I did not truly understand colonisation in a Māori context. I had read so many books about colonisation in other countries – how could I have grown up here without being exposed to the true history of this country?

In 2022 I did two things that changed my life forever – I enrolled at Te Whare Wānanga o AUT to study te reo Māori and I joined the Manavation whānau: an organisation that supports people on their te ao Māori (the Māori world) and te reo Māori journeys. As well as vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence structure, I have learned tikanga including karakia and mihi. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but every week I can kōrero (speak) and tuhi (write) more in te reo Māori.

As a pākehā, I am aware of the privilege I enjoy in learning te reo Māori – it is easier for me because I don’t have the intergenerational trauma that many Māori people have. Stories of their tīpuna (ancestors) being sent out of the classroom, hit and otherwise punished for speaking their own language in their own country run deep. I chose to learn te reo Māori because I want to be a good te Tiriti partner and because I believe that, in normalising the everyday use of te reo Māori, Aotearoa will be a better country.

Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori – The language is the heart and soul of the mana of Māori.

Within the NSPR whānau, our efforts and goals are deeply personal and based on our individual capacity. We support each other in climbing our particular maunga, believing that the intent behind the action is what matters most. If you’re thinking about learning te reo Māori, these are Niki’s three top tips for getting started:

  1. Work out your ‘why’ when it comes to learning te reo Māori – this will keep you focused and keep you going when the journey gets tough.
  2. Find a hoa (friend) or a rōpū (group) to join, even if you decide to study through books. The ability to kōrero, bounce things off each other, learn together and help each other is invaluable.
  3. Remember it is a journey: some weeks the road is long and bumpy, but the scenery along the way is ātaahua (beautiful)!

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui e hoa mā! Be strong, be brave, be steadfast friends!