From Yorkshire to Aotearoa: “Hello” vs “Kia ora”

For me learning to speak some Te Reo was really daunting. As a new arrival into New Zealand from Yorkshire in the UK 4 years ago learning a new language was not something I had factored in to my move over to NZ.

As soon as my kids went to school there were Māori names for house groups, counting, waiata and Māori songs sung in school assemblies. Pretty soon they were coming home teaching me the new words and laughing at my terrible pronunciation. It was only once I started to work I realised that I was going to have to get serious and learn some Te Reo.

What really helped was using the online Māori dictionary as you get to hear the correct pronunciation of the words. 

I also relied heavily on what my children learned through school. It was really disheartening though as they seemed to be able to pick it up so easily whilst it took me hours to get words to stick!

I bought the game Tākaro which is a Te Reo Māori language game that involves matching symbols and words. It is so much fun and made the learning much easier for me.

So I had learned all these new words but still felt nervous speaking them out loud to colleagues and customers. Partly because of my terrible accent and pronunciation but partly something else I couldn’t quite work out. I just didn’t feel connected enough.

I started my journey into understanding and learning more about Māori culture and traditions. To learn more about the history of New Zealand and the Māori people.

To me learning the language comes hand in hand with understanding about the culture and the history of Māori people.  

So now as a British immigrant living in New Zealand when I say ‘Kia ora’ it means so much more than saying hello.

Looking for ways to help improve your te reo Māori skills? Try these:

Katie Brazil

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