He Reo Tuku Iho: Tangata Whenua and Te Reo Māori
Reclaiming a language is a slow-burning process, both deeply personal and intricately connected to the socio-economic, historical and political conditions in which we live. In He Reo Tuku Iho: Tangata Whenua and Te Reo Māori, Awanui Te Huia focuses on the lived experiences of tangata whenua and explores ways in which they can reclaim te reo.
Drawing upon findings from the national research project Manawa Ū ki te Reo Māori, which surveyed motivations and barriers for Māori language acquisition and use, Te Huia encourages readers to explore how they can journey back towards te reo Māori in daily life. We hear from tangata whenua learning te reo, and from those who are fluent, while considering challenges to language reclamation – such as experiences with racism, whakamā, historical trauma and resourcing – and ways to overcome these.
At the heart of He Reo Tuku Iho is the knowledge that it is possible for Māori to return te reo to minds, hearts and mouths. As Te Huia writes: ‘The aroha connection that we all have with our tūpuna, our living relations, and those yet to come, are tied together in our collective desire for te reo Māori to thrive now and in the future.’
‘Awanui Te Huia’s writing can help tangata whenua to navigate the complexities of learning te reo Māori, maintaining it, and seeing the practical and logical steps of achieving one’s language goals. In the words of Mason Durie, referenced by Awanui, “Diverse needs require diverse solutions.” And no, it isn’t easy, as testified by the contributors to her research. The trauma, the language disruption, the availability and access to resource and access to emotion; the anxiety, the connectivity and tests of identity; the racism and the effects of colonisation and so on, all exist. But yes, as challenges they can be overcome, or at least, with the suggestions Awanui proposes, approached in ways that make the journey easier. Nau mai te rongoā. Whiria he kaha mōu, ko koe anō taua whiri, ko koe tonu tōu kaha. The solution lies with you.’ —Emeritus Professor Poia Rewi
Awanui Te Huia (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a researcher and senior lecturer at the School of Māori Studies Te Kawa a Māui. She has a PhD in psychology that focuses on factors that support heritage language development for Māori learners of te reo Māori. As well as focusing on Māori language learning, she also researches the ways in which Māori and Pākehā learn about colonial history, and how such knowledge contributes to our concepts of biculturalism in Aotearoa. In 2019, for Te Mātāwai, she led the project Manawa Ū ki te Reo Māori, which is tied to the findings of this book.
Cover design: Tane Morris