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Ruby room | tbiytc

Te Reo Māori is a Taonga 14.09.23

This week's TBIYTC is written by our very own Dream Rubettte & Senior E-Commerce Assistant, Maggie Mulligan. In line with Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Maggie takes time to share her personal journey in reclaiming her reo, along with her hopes for the rangatahi of today.

Before writing this, I was asked what I think of the question “does everyone have the right to learn Te Reo Māori?”

Kia ora koutou! Ko Maggie-Jean Mulligan tōku ingoa. I was born and raised in Tamaki Makaurau. No Ngāi tahu me Ngāti Porou ōku iwi. My Māori culture comes from my fathers side (the Mulligans) who are mostly located in Gisborne and my mum is New Zealand/European.

Āe! I believe everyone has the right to learn te reo no matter your cultural background. The Māori language is not reserved for just Māori. Te reo Māori is a taonga (treasure) to Tangata Whenua and the revival of the reo needs more than just Māori, we need people of all ethnic groups and ages to learn and speak the language too.

My personal journey with te reo has been, needless to say, a bumpy ride. I can not speak te reo, nor can I really understand it and I have always felt embarrassed and “not Māori enough”. That was until I realised there is no such thing as not being Māori enough. If you are Māori, you are Māori and that is that. I am currently on my own journey of reclaiming that part of my culture that I was never taught. Growing up I was never really exposed to the Māori culture as much as I wish I was. I attended all my Māori classes in school, sang along to all the waiatas during assembly, but I never really learnt. Most of my family that live in Gisborne can speak te reo however, because I was raised surrounded by my mum's side of the family who are New Zealand/European, the exposure to the language was never there. I enrolled myself in Te Reo Māori classes in high school and took those classes for 3 years. There were only 2 other students in my class learning along with me compared to about 25 students learning French and/or Spanish. There were just not enough of us to keep up any kind of practice so I felt like each class I was starting again. Almost 10 years on and I'm now passionate about learning the language. I try to incorporate as much reo into my day-to-day kōrero and am planning on enrolling myself into a full immersion te reo course next year once I have graduated from uni, so I can speak te reo. I do feel as though a part of me is not whole knowing I can't speak Māori and knowing that there is still so much I don’t know about my culture which is a driving force pushing me to learn every day.

I am currently a full time Sustainable Fashion Design student at Whitecliffe in my third and final year. Everything I create and design is dedicated to and inspired by the Māori culture and are small steps for myself towards reclamation. I find my design inspiration from te taiao (nature) and as a Māori wahine, I find great comfort and connection from the land. Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au. I am the land and the land is me. A collection I'm working on this year draws from the beauty of Aotearoa and the Māori culture, whilst being wearable for everyone Māori or non-māori. The fashion industry is a hard enough place but I'm hoping this will inspire young Māori creatives to join the industry and create Māori fashion because it can be done and it should be done. There are not enough and I really hope to see more Māori fashion designers within the industry in the future.

My hopes are that more rangatahi find passion within our culture and that our young Māori use their voices within their fields of practice to tell their own stories because I don’t know about you but, as a young Māori Wahine I’ve always got a lot to say.

Written by Maggie Mulligan




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