When Dave Coyne was a kid, he knew when the adults were talking about something serious.
“I grew up in an age where the reo was spoken by my old people when the topics were very important, so they spoke the reo for the big kaupapa so we couldn’t understand,” he says.
“We all grew up knowing things like ‘haere ki waho’, ‘haere mai ki te kai’, ‘haere atu’, all that kind of stuff,” he says.
“But we couldn’t have an in-depth conversation.”
That started to change when he moved to Whangārei, where his mother is from.
“All our old people were passing away and our kaumātua were starting to encourage us to learn the reo.”
So he spent a year on a training course immersed in te reo Māori and learning more about te Ao Māori.
“That was my introduction to my fluency in te reo Māori and I’ve been on that journey ever since.”
That journey has continued in 2020 with Dave enrolling on the Level 6 Te Aupikitanga ki te Reo Kairangi programme at the Whangārei campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
He says the course has been challenging but hugely enjoyable.
“It’s been good for me, it’s pulled me on and on,” he says.
Dave – Ngāti Hau – works as a cultural advisor for Māori youth and development organisation Te Ora Hou and says the course has made him better at his job.
“We do a lot of pōwhiri and mihi whakatau where I lead and coming to the wānanga has enabled me to extend myself and be able to perform my role with confidence,” and he’s enjoyed learning with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I like the wairua that the wānanga portrays,” he says.
“We talk about a safe learning environment, and it is, but it’s challenging learning in a safe environment. You’re never made to feel inferior, there’s always that belief, it’s a place for me to be able to grow.”
He says the wairua Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is what makes it different to other institutions, as does the style of learning.
“It has a flavour that’s uniquely Māori, that’s my experience. The wānanga has people that are Māori and understand the concepts of Māori.”
“It’s not only the night classes, it’s the whole noho marae at the weekend, that’s where the learning happens, and you learn about each other and there’s those magic moments that only can happen when you’re at a noho and that’s what Te Wānanga o Aotearoa provides.”
“My kaumatua said you never stop learning, so I haven’t stopped learning.”