University initiative to strengthen te reo

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Ka pai . . . Te Roopu Maori students association treasurer Warren Walker and president Tukakino Royal hand over a tasty sausage to university staff member Joanna Jones during Tuesday's te reo Maori sausage sizzle on campus. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Kia ora and welcome to Te Whetu – The Star, so named in honour of Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori.

Across Dunedin, institutes, schools, businesses and households are focusing their efforts on highlighting te reo for Maori Language Week.

The theme for Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori 2018 is Kia Kaha Te Reo Maori – “To strengthen Te Reo Maori”, which is a high priority at the University of Otago.

Office of Maori Development director Tuari Potiki said that, with about 2000 Maori students on campus, it was important to recognise the value of te reo at the university.

Mr Potiki said it was hoped that te wiki would “act as a benchmark for staff, students and researchers to do what they can to strengthen their reo beyond this week”.

University of Otago Maori communications adviser Matiu Workman said levels of interest in learning te reo were high among the public.

“I think that’s partly because people are seeing more visibility of the language .. [and] the more you are exposed to it, the more your mind turns to learning it,” he said.

From 2013 to 2017, enrolments in te reo Maori papers at all levels had been consistently about 500-plus, with 581 enrolled in 2017.

During Te Wiki of Te Reo Maori, the Te Roopu Maori student association has been active, including giving away hundreds of free sausages to students who introduced themselves and named their home town in te reo Maori.

Te Roopu president Tukakino Royal said Tuesday’s sausage sizzle was a fun way to encourage people to use te reo.

“The uptake has been really positive – people are becoming more receptive to te reo.

“This is one week when we can go full blast.”

Otago Polytechnic staff are also embracing the opportunity to hone their Maori language development, with more than 30 staff members enrolled in the EduBit course in te reo Maori in the workplace.