Te Reo Tuatahi: literally translates to The First Language. Te Reo Māori was the first language of Aotearoa-New Zealand, and at one point in time all people living here spoke Māori -yes even our British colonisers, go figure.
Sadly for many of us Māori it isn’t our first language, or otherwise known as the Mother tongue-which it should have been the very reo my nanny mā spoke to my mother, her to me and me to my tamariki-children. It still hurts that it couldn’t be handed down to me and it has been a huge part of who I am that has been missing. I am now filling that void and learning to speak our beautiful language and here is a beautiful whakataukī -proverb that really connects to how I feel about this “He manu hōu ahau, he pī ka rere”- I am a new bird, a chick learning to fly.
I have no more time to waste so as challenging as it may be, I continue to learn to speak te reo Māori. I am proud to be Māori, proud to speak Māori and to be showing my whānau that it is never too late. I am proud to be in my own small ways- continue to share, teach and whakamana tō tatou reo Rangatira-our chieftly language. My māmā-mum has committed to learning te reo Māori at 65 and her siblings- ōku mātua kēkē, and now my tamariki are hearing it from their māmā-me. And now i am a kaiāwhina in 2 main stream primary schools helping to teach the tamariki-children the foundations of te reo Māori through an amazing programme 'Te Reo Tuatahi'. It is a small step in the right direction for Aotearoa.
My encouragement is to start when they are in your puku- when you are hapū -pregnant, let your native language -should you be blessed enough to have one be the mother tongue- the very first language your unborn child hears, the language your children hear from your mouth- let their first language be that of their ancestors.