Tutor Ani Morris (far left) leads students (l to r) Ceri Horwill, Kristin Busher, Tui Gordon, Maggie Kucinski, Erin Johnson and Diana Toulmin through a waiata they are learning for Maori Language Week. Photo Tessa Ryan

A hardcore of adult learners on Waiheke had no need to wait for Maori language week to plunge into Te Reo.

More than 100 enlisted when Waiheke Adult Learning launched a Te Reo course in March and more than half are expected to go the distance to complete the course in December.

It’s the first time a Te Reo course has been offered on the island for several years.

“We looked at it as a pilot to get to know people and understand how they like to learn,” says tutor Ani Morris.

“We didn’t realise how much interest there would be – it’s awesome for the island.”

Students range in age from mid-20s to their mid-70s, Ani says. “I’ve never led a course with such a range of adults from different international backgrounds.”

Classes are held weekly and, once a term, the learners spend a weekend at Piritahi Marae.

The next camp is at the end of Maori Language Week next week.

Waiata (songs), karakia (prayers) and mihi (acknowledgements) are essential ingredients in the course and Ani says participants soon get used to them. “You cannot teach Te Reo without the protocols and customs.”

Currently, students are learning a waiata composed by Ani which reflects the history of the marae through land, streams and the establishment of its Whare Whakairo (house of knowledge).

It is hoped a similar course will be available next year.
• Geoff Cumming

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