Every day the Waitangi Tribunal Unit in Wellington has a quick group meeting to talk about work priorities for the day ahead. On Thursdays the Claims and Registrarial meeting has a unique difference – it takes place completely in te reo Māori.
'The aim of these meetings is to help normalise te reo Māori in everyday life,' says Kylie Fletcher (Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui), Claims Team Manager. 'Our people work a lot with iwi and hapū. When Waitangi Tribunal hearings take place it is possible for them to be out at a marae for several days at a time, so being comfortable in an environment where you are going to be hearing a lot of te reo Māori is an asset.'
The first Te Reo huddle took place in late July of this year, and Kylie said she was so impressed with how everyone has stepped up and improved their speaking abilities in such a short space of time.
Following traditional Māori tikanga (protocol), the huddle opens and closes with a karakia (prayer). Once the closing prayer has finished, team members have the chance to clarify anything that was said in the meeting.
The weekly te reo Māori huddle was the initiative of Abby Hauraki (Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Porou), the team’s Assistant Registrar. 'It is important that everyone feels safe and encouraged, because it is very daunting trying to speak a new language in front of people,' says Abby. 'There are different levels of fluency amongst the team, from absolute beginners to those who have a good speaking knowledge. We are all building our knowledge together and learning by doing.
'In order for te reo Māori to be normalised and revitalised it needs to be spoken and heard. That’s what we are trying to do here,' says Abby. 'We have great hopes that in the future many of our work hui (meetings) can take place only in te reo Māori.'
Similar huddles are now occurring within the wider Waitangi Tribunal Unit.
To help the team out, Abby created a document with some useful work-related phrases. We have shared some of these below to help anyone else interested in building their te reo Māori knowledge.
See more about the Waitangi Tribunal(external link).
Pictured above (from left to right) are Kylie Fletcher, Brianna Boxall, and Tara Hauraki.
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