Gareth Kahui walked through the doors at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa's Ngāmotu (New Plymouth) campus to learn te reo Māori five years ago.
And he hasn't left since.
"I came to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa because the language wasn't coming to me," he says.
"I had a limited circle of people to converse with so I had to go to the language. I walked in five years ago and haven't left."
Gareth (Ngā Ruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, Taranaki Tuturu, Te Atiawa, Te Rarawa) steadily progressed to the upper levels of Māori language learning studying Te Pīnakitanga ki te reo Kairangi in 2018.
He then moved to the front of the class as a kaiawhina (assistant) for reo classes held at the campus.
But to first help him help others, he studied towards Te Hapūtanga o te ao Tikanga.
The programme helps tauira (students) to develop their understanding of tikanga protocols and cultural practices.
Tauira also learn how to advance their technical and practical skills of tikanga. They develop their ability to critique and analyse the thinking behind tikanga and its many applications not only in te ao Māori but in the modern world.
Gareth says his tikanga study is helping him to teach te reo Māori, which he says is a responsibility for everyone in the community to nurture and take care of.
He created his 'Keeping it reo' campaign in Taranaki. The campaign is about normalising te reo Māori and has a website and a weekly radio programme for the community to participate in.
Gareth wants to do more though, including creating a te reo Māori element in different social activities including sports teams, hobbies like housie, cards and board games and an open space for study and coffee groups to meet up.
"The end game is to provide as many opportunities for individuals, students, families, communities to participate in a social te reo friendly activity in a social te reo supportive environment."
Gareth wants people to feel safe, appreciated and valued while learning the language.
But his ultimate goal is for the language to be spoken and heard at the marae.
"Returning to the marae is the goal, to know who is who and how to know and be proficient in the varying roles, to be available and to embody our kōrero, history and to participate in our tribal space, with our people in our traditions and practices."