Teeana Kara was part of Waiheke High School’s kapa haka success at Polyfest in 2019 when Piringākau score first in Te Mita o Te Reo – Haka. Photo Shunsuke Fujita

Kaua he whakamā ki te korerō Māori. Ahakoa he iti, he tāonga 

Don’t be shy to speak Māori. No matter how little, treasure it

Waiheke High School head girl Teeana Kara has chosen to put university on hold next year to study full immersion te reo Māori at Te Wānanga Takiura o Nga Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa, in Auckland.

Teeana was one of almost 250 people seeking a spot on the popular course, which accepts just 160 students, and takes them on a journey towards te reo fluency and immersion in all aspects of Māori culture.

The year 13 – who is also a part-time firefighter, prize-winning sports star and cultural ambassador – almost didn’t make the cut. But managed to convince kaiako to give her an interview when she missed the application deadline. Luckily, they were impressed enough to welcome her in.

During the interview process, Teeana met people from industries ranging from television to corporate business, who were being encouraged to gain reo fluency. Doctors, teachers, creatives and industry leaders are being drawn to the immersion course with a view to keep Māori language and culture alive, enriching themselves and the world around them.

It’s a huge shift in a country where te reo was once banned in schools and communities. Teeana hopes she can be a part of the language renaissance, help keep te reo alive and pass on what she has learned to others. • Liza Hamilton

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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