In the last of Ten One's special reports for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Constable Hope Daniels says learning the language has helped her in her work, and changed her view of the world around her. Click here or scroll down for the English translation.
I ēnei rā, ka haere ngā kōrero i roto i te reo i ōna ao, e ai ki a Āpiha Hope Daniels, nā konei ka taea te kī, ko tēnei tau ka hipa ake nei tōna tino tau i Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa, otirā, ka noho “hei tino tau, mō ake tonu atu.”
He Kaitakawaenga (Āpiha Takawaenga Iwi Hapori) a Hope i Tāmaki Makaurau i ēnei rā, ā, ki a ia, me i kore ia e whai i tētahi kaupapa ako rumaki reo i te tau ka mahue ake nei, kore rawa ia e eke ki te tūranga.
Kāore ia i rongo i te reo i tōna tupunga ake, ahakoa he Māori ōna mātua e rua (Ngāpuhi), kāore i kōrero i te reo. Tētahi, i nuku atu te whānau ki Āhitereiria e rua tekau tau ki muri, nā reira ka tupu wehe kē i ētahi atu o te whānau, he matatau ki te kōrero.
Ka puta ia i te Kāreti Pirihimana e rima tau ki mua, ā, ka noho i te aroākapa o ngā mahi pirihimana mō te toru tau. Ahakoa ‘kua timotimo’ ki ngā āhuatanga ako i te reo i roto i aua wā, nā te tāpaetanga mai a ngā Pirihimana i te whakaaro kia whakauru ia ki tētahi kaupapa ako rumaki i Te Wānanga o Takiura ka rere ia ki te whakauru atu.
“He whāinga nui te ako i te reo i taku hokinga mai i Āhitereiria - ehara i te mea mō te reo anake – engari kia tūtaki tāngata i tētahi wāhi hou.”
He whakamere te kaupapa ako, he rawe ngā mahi, he kaupapa me whakaiti te tangata, he whakaoho whakaaro.
Ehara i te mea ka taea te whakamārama ki te kupu kotahi anake. Rerekē taku titiro ki te ao ināianei," tana kī, me tana whakaaroaro he aha ngā mea kua kitea e ngā maunga me ngā rākau, he mauri tō ēnei āhuatanga, he mea toitū i roto i te mano tau.
I roto i tōna ao mahi, ka noho ko te reo hei painga mōna, kei mua pea tana hīkoi i ōna hoa - waihoki ko ngā Māori kua tirotiro anake ki a ia i mua, kāore he kōrero, kua ngāwari kē atu ināianei te whakatata atu ki a ia.
I tērā marama i mahi tahi rātou ko ana hoa mahi ki te Auckland City Mission me ētahi atu hinonga mō te kaupapa o Manaaki Tangata, he kai mā te hapori.
"Tata ki te 300 te hunga matekai i whāngaia e mātou. He rawe ki te noho tahi ki te kai, ki te kōrero hoki me rātou.
"Nā te kī noa iho i te rerenga 'kia ora' i huaki ngā tatau maha, ā, i pai taku noho ki te reo Māori mō te roanga o ā mātou kōrero ki ētahi o rātou.
“Nā te reo mātou i whakahoki ki te ao o te aroha, o te manaaki - nā taku tomokanga ki Takiura i whakawātea ēnei āhuatanga ki a au.”
Ka haere ngā waiata, ngā karakia me ētahi kōrero ki tana kāhui Ratonga Momo Iwi Māori, Moana-nui-a-Kiwa hoki i Auckland Central.
"Kei te tū mātou ki te kōrero, kei te tū māia mātou i tō mātou teihana," tana kī. "He rite tonu tā mātou whakamahi i te reo."
I ēnei wā e mahi ana ia i roto i te tira kaupare i te COVID-19 i Tāmaki Makaurau, arā, he whakahaere i ngā wāhi noho wehe mō te urutā, me te rere tonu o te reo hei tuhono i a ia, ehara i te mea ki ngā manuhiri anake, engari ki ērā atu kaimahi.
E ai ki tētahi hoamahi o NZDF i kōrero tahi ia mō te kaupapa ako i te rā tuatahi, i te rā i muri mai ka puta i a ia te maioha ‘kia ora’, ā, – “koirā te tīmatanga.”
He rite tonu ki ētahi atu, ehara i te mea he reo noa iho, engari he ara ki roto i te Ao Māori, me ōna taonga katoa.
A korero with colleagues in te reo is part of her everyday life now, Constable Hope Daniels says, and it’s made the past year in Police not only the best ever “but probably the best I will ever have”.
Hope, now a Kaitakawaenga (Community Iwi Liaison Officer) in Tāmaki Makaurau, says it’s a role she could only have dreamt about before doing an immersion course in te reo last year.
She wasn’t exposed to the language growing up as, although both parents are Māori (Ngāpuhi), it wasn't spoken at home. Added to that, the family moved to Australia 20-odd years ago, so she grew up away from other whānau members, some of whom are fluent.
She graduated from the Royal New Zealand Police College five years ago, then spent three years on the front line. Although she has ‘chipped away’ at te reo during that time, when Police offered the opportunity for an immersion course at Te Wānanga o Takiura she leapt at it.
“Learning te reo was a goal when I came back from Australia – not only for the language but as a way of meeting people in a new place.”
The course was challenging, exciting, humbling and eye-opening.
“There’s no one word that can describe just what it was like. I see the world differently,” she says, wondering aloud about how much has been seen by the mountains and the trees she now sees as sharing a life force and as witnesses to history.
In her work life she feels te reo gives her a distinct advantage over colleagues without it – Māori who would previously have made eye contact only now approach her more readily.
Last month she and colleagues teamed up with the Auckland City Mission and other agencies for Manaaki Tangata, a community kai.
“We fed about 300 people in need. It was awesome to sit down and have a kai and kōrero with them.
"A simple 'kia ora' opened a lot of doors for us and I could remain in te reo Māori for the duration of our kōrero with a few of them.
“Te reo placed us in a neutral place of aroha and manaaki - the opportunity I had to go to Takiura gave me that experience.”
Every day brings waiata, karakia and a kōrero with her Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services teammates at Auckland Central.
“We’re loud and proud at our station,” she says. “We use te reo as much as we can.”
At present she’s part of the COVID-19 response in Tāmaki Makaurau, working at managed isolation facilities where the reo connects her not only with guests but with other personnel.
An NZDF colleague who she told enthusiastically about the course on day one greeted her with a ‘kia ora’ the next day – “and that’s where it starts”.
Like others she says it’s not only a language, but a way to connect to Te Ao Māori in all its richness.