Skip Content
Jim Mather

He huringa kētanga nō roto mai o Te Reo Rotarota

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa successfully delivered another Te Reo Rotarota course last year - the third since 2010. 

The 18-week Kawai Raupapa certificate in Māori sign language is designed and delivered by kaiako Richard Peri who is qualified in New Zealand Sign Language. 

When Richard was three he lost his hearing and along with that a sense of cultural identity. Today, however, he keeps himself busy learning the nuances of Te Reo and advocating for kupu Māori in sign language.

Richard was first introduced to TWoA through Ako Wānanga development and monitoring manager Ruhia King, when she accompanied her deaf brother to a hui for hearing-impaired Māori in 1996.
"What came out of the kōrero was that we needed to look after our tikanga. Turi Māori yearned to have access to their own language and knowledge concepts."
 
Ruhia went on to take a NZ sign language class Richard was teaching, and thought it would be simple to translate signs such as 'ingoa' for 'name'. However, when it came to Māori locations and other words the sign language failed.
 
"I gasped in horror," says Ruhia.

'Manukau' for example was signed as 'Man a Cow', Papatoetoe was the letter P and then a point to each of your toes, Pukekohe was a rub of the 'puku' and so on.
 
"It became about taking the reo from your waha and putting it into your hands."
 
Through her training enterprise Te Rapu Mātauranga, Ruhia created the first Te Reo Māori sign language course in 1997 and further developed it into a kaiwhakamārama diploma in 2001. 

Ruhia says a university sought to have the diploma revoked but with support from Māori language expert Dr Wharehuia Milroy the objection was dismissed as Turi Māori continue to become more empowered by increasing their Te Reo Rotaroata vocabulary.

Statistics New Zealand says hearing impairment affects nine percent of the New Zealand's total population, 54,000 being Māori.

Qualified signers, who can translate in to and from Māori, number around a dozen. 

Ruhia says the opportunity is already in the hands of TWoA to supply the interpreters needed.

"I'm so glad that I've helped to make a difference and will continue to promote Reo Rotarota with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa when delivering training programmes to staff."

 Back to news & events

Published On: 7 June, 2016

Article By: Carly Tawhiao



Other Articles

  • 24 July, 2020

    Time to make Matariki a public holiday

    This month we once again greeted Matariki as the star constellation rose above the eastern horizons to herald a new year in te Ao Māori.

  • 13 July, 2020

    A star in his own right

    Professor Rangi Mataamua, the Tūhoe astronomer who worked with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa to develop the popular Te Iwa o Matariki roadshow exhibition, has been awarded the Prime Minister’s science communications prize from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

  • 6 July, 2020

    Karate couple explore parenting prowess

    It’s parenting and leadership – and how to do this even better - that has been the focus of their current participation in the two-year He Waka Hiringa Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge programme at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

  • 3 July, 2020

    Long-term benefits of business study

    It’s taken years of hard work and Alex credits his business studies with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa as providing the base from which the company has grown.