Te Reo Māori is the first language in the home of Eruera Tarena (Ngāi Tūāhuriri), his wife Te Marino (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi) and their children Matariki (7), Kupuora (5), Tomairangi (2). For their youngest, Aotea, the cycle of learning at the knee continues as the sounds and intonation of the language fills his ears in his waking moments.
Eruera’s whānau were instrumental in nurturing his passion for language with te reo always part of whānau gatherings.
“I was fortunate to have native speakers around me. Today, having grown up with te reo Māori gives me confidence, strength and a sense of identity – of who I am and where I come from. Both Te Marino and I want that for our children.”
Over the years Eruera has invested a lot of time and energy in learning te reo, attending wānanga and studying at Canterbury University. The tribal strategy Kotahi Mano Kāika, which aims to have one thousand homes using te reo as a first language has also played an important part.
“Kotahi Mano Kāika shifted the focus from the classroom to the home. The classroom is important, but to be a living language it needs to be used in the home. Every word I can teach my children is another word they don’t have to go and learn.”