People of all ages keen to learn more about Māori culture and the basics of Te Reo are being invited to join the second community language course being held at the Cambridge Community Marae.
Te Reo 101, a six-week introductory course at NgāHau e Wha Community Marae in Leamington’s Bracken St, will run from February 12 to March 19.
From 6pm to 7.30pm on each of those six Mondays, members of the community will have an opportunity to learn correct Te Reo pronunciation and common greetings. They will also be told local stories and be given explanations around the protocol of moving on to a marae, and on how to confidently give their pepeha – which is a means of introducing themselves in Māoridom.
Providing the learning will be Vinnie Simmonds, community advocate with Mana Hapori, his wife Chrissy, and Wayne Morris.
“This will be our second community Te Reo course,” Vinnie explained. “The first was a great success. It was held in the fourth term of last year and we’ve had very good feedback on it.”
Mana Hapori was established in early 2016, essentially as a community-based initiative intended to strengthen communities in and around Cambridge. Most of the learning programmes it offers, which includes Te Reo and other classes, are done out of the neighbouring Cambridge Community Marae.
Much of the early activity saw schools and other community groups, including Rotary and the Lions clubs, attend sessions where Māori culture was explained. The Initial Te Reo 101 courses were aimed at teachers, Vinnie said.
“Soon after starting Mana Hapori, I went to the principals’ association to let them know who we were and what we were looking at doing. We were asked if we could do something to help familiarise teachers with Māori, and I said we would love to.
“There were free three-hour Te Reo sessions in both Hamilton and Te Awamutu, but they asked if we could start doing something locally. So, we did. We customised the course so they could come straight after school.”
The popularity of Te Reo 101 for teachers led to a decision to open it up to the wider community late last year. The first of those courses attracted 26 people, aged from just eight years old to those in their retirement years.
“We had whole families coming along – one group was a mum and dad plus their six kids. It was great.”
This time, they’re looking at having around 30 participants.
“We like to keep it simple,” Vinnie explained. “We use KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetheart. It’s an introduction of the protocol and the history. At the end of the six weeks, they have a far better understanding of Māoridom.”
Vinnie said the course was open to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge.
Because the course starts on February 12, registration should be by February 7 to secure a spot. More details on the course, and enrolment details, are available through Mana Hapori administrator, Zoe Forrest via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.