Monday, 4 July 2011

Te Manākitanga

It's that time of year again - Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. Because every national language needs less than 2% of the year devoted to it! We're watching Te Kāea, which does mean that I need to actually watch the screen for the subtitles, but I'm starting to be able to pick out words more and more often.

That... isn't really enough though. We were building a place at Te Awa o Te Ora, but now that our kaiako harakeke has left the city we haven't been much, plus I've been working more. (I'm up to sixteen hours a week, which is awesome but exhausting.) As for at home, there's a reason we refer to Wednesday as Maori TV night - dad either has meetings or he and mum go to play bridge. He is... not the most Maori-friendly person, to say the least. In fact during Te Wiki last year I posted a rant about his scathing comments towards kupu pōriro like "hipi" for sheep and their authenticity. Because, you know, native languages are supposed to just freeze at the moment of contact, unlike other languages which are allowed to evolve.

At any rate, we watch Toku Reo at least once a week, more when we can, but we live in a very white world. They do say that Ōtautahi is the white supremacist capital of New Zealand. So it's difficult. But by the next census, I want to be able to tell them that I speak Te Reo. That's my goal.

I feel like I should write something eloquent, now, about the meaning behind Te Manākitanga, but honestly I kind of think "Te Manākitanga" is eloquent enough. We don't have a word that concise in English, which seems to be the way with a lot of Maori phrases. Hospitality is about the closest, but manākitanga goes both ways - respect for your hosts, being welcoming to your guests, and there is, I think, something to be said in there about the English (and bear in mind I'm using "English" as shorthand here) refer to this as something that the host does, but to Māori it's a mutual thing. We've failed that. As a collective, we have no respect for Māori, and we have to change before it's too late - because it will be. Te Reo is dying out and so are parts of the tikanga. A lot of knowledge has probably already been lost. And everything I've learned, at Te Awa o Te Ora and other places, tells me that we would be very much the worse for it.

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