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The Māori Renaissance Continues After Class

January 11, 2017

Living and loving and teaching te ao Māori: (left to right) Te Whatukura lecturers Angela Tibble, Nadine McKinnon and Marei Norris.

EIT’s Te Whatukura not only gives students a door into te ao Māori, it also gives its lecturers a base they can use to strengthen, broaden and explore the world of Māori.

Marei Norris has whakapapa links to Te Aitanga Mahaki, Tuhoe and England . Raised by his grandparents, he grew up steeped in Māori language and culture, and after a career in management in the private sector he felt the pull to explore things Māori.

Study at EIT led Marei to becoming a lecturer himself, while maintaining the discipline of “always writing”. His particular area of fascination is mōteatea, and he is working on his masters degree, which focuses on an oriori, or lullaby.

For Māori the process of instilling values, beliefs, morals, principles, integrity and ambitions traditionally began while the child was still in the womb, and Marei says these songs are rich with metaphor and reward careful analysis.

“The procedure of vocalizing mōteatea even at this embryonic stage implants into the unborn child the essential quality and vitality of a being.”

For his colleague Nadine McKinnon, having three children demanded a project to keep her mind active, so she wrote two books to help high school students learn Te Reo. So far
almost 10,000 copies are out there helping to revitalise Maori language.

“We tried to make fun activities for the students to practise at home which would reinforce the language and structures learned within the classroom.”

Lecturing degree students, and about to start work on a book on Māori grammar, she never thought she would be in academia.

“I wanted to be out in the bush. I had a company in Australia building walking tracks and doing historic stone masonry, then I came back here and worked for DoC. Your tipuna guide you and here I am — my mum’s from Makarika.”

Angela Tibble also hails from up the Coast, and at this year’s Te Matatini in February she and her whanau will revive Hikurangi Parish’s kapa haka group, which last competed in
the 60s. The group is hapu-based and intergenerational, and includes the legendary “Ngarimu nannies” who are now in their 90s.

The tono (motivation) has been in the heart of people for years, says Angela.

“We’re known for our ability to strike up songs on the spot without any practice, which is a legacy from this group. A lot of my young nephews living at home and starting families
love kapahaka and prompted their aunties and uncles to get the pariha started again.

“It’s a lovely movement, and gets everyone back to the marae for good positive kaupapa. It’s all about home and it’s just a wonderful environment to be in.”