Lead up to registering for te reo class

 mid 2011

Here I was a 50+ year old Jewish/Pakeha woman muddling along in life, constantly questioning my identity and my purpose in life. I was working part time, and still am, at the Library following a severe car accident 4 years ago which has made working full time difficult. 

The calling towards the Maori culture has been with me since I arrived in Aotearoa and after reading an article in the local paper, about 3 years ago, about a family who were learning te reo Maori on a local Marae, I decided to investigate.  It took me a while to make contact and when I did I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to be 100% committed in order to do the course. I was told that although was a part time evening course to allow for people who work, it demanded a lot of work outside of class hours as well.  I was to find out how true those words were. As it was already part way into the year, I had to wait for the 2012 intake but I was invited to attend the Matariki celebration happening soon.  

I still remember literally shaking when I went down to Te Herenga Waka o Orewa for Matariki that morning.  I had no idea what to expect and I felt like some sort of intruder or imposter.  Somehow I managed to push through the discomfort and as an observer enjoyed the day.  Of course as soon as the powhiri and waiata began I was hooked.

I guess I have a brave side to myself that does push through all sorts of insecurities that has served me well in the past and helped me to achieve small but significant things.  So, with all of that, this neurotic Jewish woman persisted for many different reasons and enrolled later that year into the certificate course ” Te Pokaitahi Ngapuhi Nui Tonu – Te Reo” (Level 3).




Background: Arriving in Aotearoa

My parents are both German-Jewish survivors/immigrants of the Nazi regime and the 2nd WW.   I was born in Melbourne, Australia then moved to live in Israel in 1978 at the age of 19.  My Son was born in Israel and was 4 years old when we came to live in Aotearoa in 1990. 

I remember early on feeling attracted to the Maori culture.  My son went to Freemans Bay primary school for his first three years and I remember the Maori immersion unit there having a powhiri which we attended. I didn’t understand the process or content, but what I do remember was getting really emotional when they did a karakia/waiata.  I felt all choked up, it hit me deep inside.  To this day Maori waiata continues to have this effect on me.

My next memory is when I was studying Psychotherapy at AUT. (1992 -1995) An emotional roller coaster in itself, right from the outset there was a Maori component to the course. This has changed and grown incredibly since then and I believe the course now has a Maori pathway in its own right which is a great achievement.  Back then though we did some learning of tikanga Maori concepts and with a noho marae for a weekend each year.  These hui were held at Hoani Waititi Marae and were quite intense and memorable experiences.