Te reo Māori is a beautiful language that more people should be engaging in, a Timaru librarian says.

As the nation celebrates Te Wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week, Timaru Library Youth Services team leader Anita Dawson has spoken about the importance of learning the language - something she, and 37 of her colleagues, have done through a course offered by Ara Institute of Canterbury's Te Puna Wānaka.

"Te reo is one of our national languages and we want to be using te reo as often as we can in our working day with our children and members of the public that we meet," she said.

"It's a beautiful language and we enjoy speaking it. We are beginner learners and it's really been really great experience for us to improve our pronunciation and have more of an awareness of vocabulary we can be using in the library."

The increasing number of individuals and organisations choosing to study te reo Māori has also impressed the people who deliver lessons in the official language.

Ara Institute of Canterbury said the language has experienced a resurgence with about 200 more people registered to study the language than five years ago.

Ara's Te Puna Wānaka offers a 10-hour introductory Māori language course for students with no knowledge of te reo Māori or tikanga Māori.

Manager Heperi Harris said Ara offers te reo Māori courses for businesses and for individuals with positive feedback across Canterbury.

"For businesses we adjust the content of the courses to fit the organisation's need. Government organisations are particularly interested and we have worked with Timaru District Council, Ashburton District Council and Waimate District Council staff."

He said there are two te reo tutors in Timaru and Ashburton but with the steadily growing demand for courses it is hoped more courses will be offered.

"The reason we are offering these courses is to build better and long lasting relationships with local iwi.

"The different organisations we work with want to engage with and create more positive interactions with local Māori communities and want to contribute to the wider Aoraki community."

Harris said the short 10-hour courses could either be done in two Saturday sessions, or five two-hour weekly sessions.

"Our students say that one of the favourite parts of the course is learning the right pronunciation of words. It is making them feel more comfortable and confident in situations when they have to use te reo Māori."

He said in South Canterbury, organisations such as the Waimate District Council and the Timaru District Council (TDC) are huge role players in te reo training.

TDC senior adviser for people and capability Hannah Goddard-Coles said earlier this year the council had 38 employees enrolled for the short courses.

Dawson said the lessons at Timaru's Ara campus had been "great fun".

"We went to fortnightly lessons and it involved some singing which we enjoyed as well.

"Learning how to say ngā mihi (thank you) and a pepeha (proverbs) and a big focus on pronunciation of vowels. That was fantastic for us."

Libraries play an important role in helping foster a love of language and literature, she said.

"Our te reo Māori collections introduce children to the language in a fun and accessible way. We have a designated te reo collection in the library which has been updated and expanded this year."

Waimate District Council chief executive Stuart Duncan said some council staff and councillors were learning te reo, but no formal lessons were arranged with Ara as yet.

"Discussions with Ara have not resulted in formalising lessons for staff. However, we would like to discuss on site lessons for staff with our local Te Rūnanga o Waihao."

Continue Reading

on Stuff