In the first of a Ten One series marking Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week, Sergeant Steve Mariu shares his story of learning te reo and what it has meant in his life and policing career. Click here or scroll down for the English translation.
I noho ia mō ana ngahuru tau tuatahi hei pirihimana ki te karo i ngā huihuinga me ngā marae, nā tana wehi ki te tangata e tatari ana kia kōrero ia i te reo, engari kāore ōna reo Māori.
Heoi anō, e ai ki a Haihana Tīpene Mariu, te Pouwhakataki (Iwi Liaison Coordinator) i Mōhua, nā tana haere ki tētahi kaupapa ako ia i hiki ki runga kia tū māia ki te kōrero, otirā ki te mātaki hou ki te ao pirihimana. Nā tana rangatira pirihimana i whakaae kia utua te kaupapa ako.
“Ehara i te mea ko te reo, ko te ngākau tonu," tana kī.
“Ki te tomo atu koe ki te kaupapa, te hokinga mai kua Māori kē atu tō ngākau.”
He āpiha pirihimana a Tīpene mō te 35 tau. Mō te nuinga o aua tau i mahi a Tīpene hei āpiha i te CIB i Counties Manakau. I reira ka kitea ā-kanohitia e ia te tokomaha o ngāi Māori i roto i ngā mahi hara - me tana whakaae i āhua rite tonu tāna titiro makihuhunu ki a ngāi Māori, ki tō ngā hoa pirihimana Pākehā.
Kotahi anō te rā i whakaaetia te reo Pakehā, ko te rā 1. Mai i tērā wā ko te reo mai i te 9-3 (ngā hāora kura) ā, i muri ka ako mō ētahi hāora i te pō, me ētahi atu hāora i ngā mutunga wiki, ki te mahi kāinga i te tēpu o te kīhini.
"Kua 50 tau kē ōku tau. He uaua kē atu taku hopu i te reo," e ai ki a ia.
Ahakoa kua tupu ake ia i tētahi kāinga Māori, i tupu mai tana matua me tana koroua i te whakatupuranga i patua rā i te kura mō te kōrero Māori.
I tana whakapuaki i tana ngākau-nui ki te reo i tōna taiohitanga, ka whakakoretakengia taua whakaaro e tana pāpā. Ka tae tana matua ki te mutunga o ōna rā, ka whakahau tana pāpā i a Tīpene kia kaua ia e haria ki tōna marae tupuna ki Tāpeka, ki Waihī, i te pito o Taupō Moana, i tōna matenga, engari me pupuru ki te kāinga, kia pai ai te noho a te whānau.
Nā tana kore e mōhio ki te reo, he iti noa te mōhio ki ngā tikanga, ki Te Ao Māori anō hoki, te kī a Tīpene.
Kua tae ia ki te tuahiwi o te tau, ka rongo ia i ngā rerekētanga whakaroto. I rongo tana wahine i a ia e waiata ana i te māra, me tana pātai, he aha kei te haere. Ngāwari noa te whakautu - "Kua ngohengohe haere taku ngākau, kua tuwhera mai tētahi wāhi o roto."
I mōhio hoki ia, i tōna hokinga ki te mahi, ehara te CIB i te wāhi tika mōna. Ko tana hiahia kē kia mahi ia i roto i ngā mahi ārai i te hara, ā, i mahi ia i ētahi tūranga pērā pēnei i te Youth Aid, me te mahi pirihimana ā-takiwā i Papakura, tana maharatanga pai rawa. "Ka noho tērā wa hei maharatanga hira rawa atu, mai o taku takahanga tuatahi i te huarahi mahi."
Ka pakari haere ia ki te kōrero i te reo, ka noho ko te reo tonu hei wāhanga hira o tana mahi.
Kei te maumahara ia ki tētahi rā i te anga rātou ko ana hoa aroākapa Pākehā ki te hopu i tētahi tangata hara Māori, ko te whānau katoa o taua tangata e tū ana i te taha, huri noa. Ko ana tamariki ētahi, ko ana tēina tuākana, tuāhine ētahi. I te hīkaka katoa ētahi ki te whawhai, tana kī, te āhua nei me hopu te katoa.
”I kōrero atu au ki a ia ki te reo 'kua tae mai mātou ki konei ki te mahi i tā mātou mahi. Ki te kaha rawa tō reo ka hopukina hoki ētahi atu tāngata. Me āta noho koe, kia tau te rangimārie. Whakaarotia, matua.'"
Ko te whakautu a te tangata hara, he kī atu ki ana hoa kia tau te rangimārie, me te tuku i ia kia hopukina.
"I peka atu au ki a ia i te rūma mauhere i muri mai, ā, me tana whakamoemiti ki a au," tā Tīpene.
I muri, ka tino pai ake te āhua o ērā tiriti e rua o Papakura, he tiriti i tuwhaina ngā motokā Pirihimana e ngā tamariki i mua.
“Ko te whakatau, me heke atu au ki waho i taku motokā ki te kōrero ki a rātou. I roto i ngā marama e rua kua putaputa mai aua tangata i ō rātou whare ki te kōrero ki a mātou. Ko te āhua o te kōrero "Matua, ka hīkoi tahi mātou me koutou'."
Ehara i te mea ko te matatau o Tīpene ki te reo anake te mea nui - kua uru ia ki ētahi atu kaupapa ako - engari he tino kaikauwhau ia kia ako ētahi atu tāngata i te reo. E kore e herea ki ana hoa Māori anake.
Ka noho tēnei hei pou taketake mō te mahi whakatika whakaaro hē, tana kī, "E mōhio ana au ka tino hiahia ētahi o aku hoa mahi Pākehā ki te takahi i te ara nei.
“He rawe ki ahau taku hīkoi mā tēnei ara i ēnei tau.”
Gaining a Māori heart with te reo.
He spent his first few decades as a police officer trying to avoid marae because he feared being expected to speak te reo and he couldn’t.
But Sergeant Steve Mariu, now Pouwhakataki (Iwi Liaison Coordinator) in Tasman, says a course funded by his Police boss not only gave him the confidence to speak but a whole new perspective on policing.
“It’s not the reo, it’s the heart,” he says.
“If you do the course you come away with a Māori heart.”
A police officer for 35 years, Steve spent most of his career in CIB in Counties Manukau. There he saw first-hand the familiar crime statistics relating to Māori – and acknowledges he shared the same bias towards them as many Pākehā colleagues.
Then District Commander Superintendent, now Deputy Commissioner, John Tims authorised a full-year immersion course for Steve and two colleagues, run by Auckland-based Te Wānanga o Takiura.
“What an absolute gift,” Steve says now of the offer which saw them still paid and required only to forego their annual leave.
English was allowed on day one only. Then it was te reo from 9-3 (school hours) followed by several hours each night and even more at weekends doing homework at the kitchen table.
“I was 50. It was harder for me to take in,” he reckons.
Although he’d grown up in a Māori home, his father and his grandfather were of the beaten-for-speaking-Māori-at-school generations.
When as a teenager Steve had expressed an interest in the language, his father had been totally dismissive. Even at the end of his life he told Steve not to take him to Tāpeka, their home marae at Waihi at the base of Lake Taupō, when he died but to keep him at home where they’d be comfortable.
Having no te reo also meant having little or no knowledge of tikanga or of Te Ao Māori, Steve says.
He was about half-way through the course when he knew something in him was changing. His wife heard him singing in the garden and asked him what was going on. The answer was simple – “My heart had softened and opened up.”
He also knew, on returning to work, that CIB was no longer the right fit. Instead he wanted to work in prevention, which he did in several roles including Youth Aid and, fondest in his memory, two years in neighbourhood policing in Papakura. “Probably the highlight of my career.”
As he gained more confidence in speaking, his newly acquired reo increasingly became part of his work.
He recounts an incident where he was supporting Pākehā frontline colleagues trying to arrest a Māori offender, who was surrounded by whānau. Some were his children, some his siblings.
All of them were amped, he says, and it seemed as if bulk arrests would be needed.
“I said to him in te reo ‘we are here to do a job. If you keep ramping up it will create a situation where others will be arrested too. You need to be calm. Think about it, mātua’.”
The offender responded by telling those supporting him to be calm, before allowing himself to be arrested.
“I visited him in the cells later and he thanked me,” Steve says.
It also helped bring about a turnaround in Papakura’s two most notorious streets, where attitudes to Police were so entrenched that kids would routinely spit at Police cars.
“I decided to get out of the car and talk to them. Within two months people would come out of their houses and talk to us. Then it was ‘Mātua, we will walk with you’.”
Steve is not only now fluent – he has done further courses – but also a passionate advocate for others learning te reo. And he’s not restricting that to Māori colleagues.
It would go a long way towards addressing bias, he says, “And I know many of my Pākehā colleagues would love to have the opportunity.
“I have loved going on this journey.”