He mātai whetū ki te rangi, he mātai whetū ki te whenua. Ko te karanga o Matariki tērā e pōhiri ana ki te iwi ki te whakakotahi mai ki te Tari Matua o te Kōhanga Reo, hei hokinga mahara, hei whakanui anō i te tau hou Māori, arā, ki te whare o ngā mokopuna.
To acknowledge Matariki and celebrate the Māori New Year, Te Tari Matua hosted a breakfast and invited Kōhanga Reo, Kaumātua, The Minister of Māori Development, MP’s as well as distinguished guests to reflect on 34 years of Kōhanga Reo.
An informal event, it’s purpose was to reflect on the past, be in the present, while looking ahead to the future.
Dr Tīmoti Kāretu, co–chair of the Board, made the opening address; he acknowledged the passing of Kōhanga Reo stalwarts, Koro Manuera and Nanny Oraiti although their loss was still felt, their contribution to kaupapa would endure.
He recalled a conversation he had with Nanny Henrietta and Nanny Te Oraiti…
“Ahakoa te whare i whakangāueuetia e ngā hau kino o te wā kei te tū ū tonu, he aha i ū tonu ai, nā ngā kaumātua tonu i tō rātou wā te waka i whakatere te whare i whakatū i tū tika ai.”
Although our house may tremble as it is hit by the windy storms of the times, it stands strong, and it is strong because it’s foundation is still as solid as when it was laid by those elders of that time.
Minister of Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell, acknowledged the 34 years of Kōhanga Reo and his time as a student of Tīmoti, Te Wharehuia and Hirini Melbourne. He spoke about how he met his beautiful wife who also spoke Māori, so there was no question that their children would speak Māori.
Minister Te Ururoa paid tribute to the efforts of Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and the late Nanny Oraiti to get the kaupapa of Kōhanga Reo off the ground those many years ago. Now, today, with the birth of his first mokopuna, and another not too far away, the decision for his mokopuna to speak Māori is made so much easier because of the awareness around the reo.
Matiu Kingi, a Kaumātua from Te Rarawa, remembered Koro Manuera as a staunch advocate of te reo. He also paid tribute to Hare Petera who passed, the last of the 28 Māori Battalion soldiers in Te Taitokerau.
Marama Fox, co leader of the Māori Party, remembers her Kōhanga Reo roots, and says that Kōhanga Reo will always be in her heart. “All my kids went through Kōhanga Reo and I followed them through the kaupapa. It should be always remembered that Kōhanga Reo is not just for the children, but the parents as well. When I was in Kōhanga Reo with my boys I learnt about Te ao Māori”.
Whitiau Ropitini, Master of Ceremonies, took those in attendance on a historical journey of Kōhanga Reo. A Kōhanga Reo graduate from Ruatāhuna and Kura kaupapa recently a father, he is the new face Kōhanga Reo.
Raised by his elders, he encouraged our kaumātua to stay close to the kaupapa, and reminded them that they are valued and needed, a timely reminder as many of our Kuia, Koroua are passing on..
Nanny Huia Henere of Aotea rohe added her words of encourage to Kōhanga Reo whānau and families to ensure that they reach out if they need help.
Te Kōhanga o Rotokawa was a finalist in the Prime Minister’s Awards of Excellence, a great achievement considering there were over 200 other entries. They are the first Kōhanga Reo ever to enter and to make it as a finalist.Leah McMillian (he kaiwhakahaere) spoke about the process of entering the awards, but focused her kōrero on the outcomes they had achieved with their whānau to increase participation within Kōhanga.
The occasion wasn’t lost on Danny Poihipi, who had travelled from Te Whānau a Apanui to be part of the Matariki Breakfast. His was simply, that it was nice to see the old faces, and the caliber of people who turned up, because it showed that people still support the kaupapa of Kōhanga reo. Nā mihi.