Australian national Madison Knights started learning te reo Māori to better understand and connect with the country that welcomed her.
Madison, who has lived in Ōtepoti (Dunedin) for 10 years since moving here from across the Tasman, is among the 2021 graduates from Te Pūtaketanga o te Reo at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
The 40-week full immersion programme is for tauira (students) wanting to learn in a calm and encouraging environment that challenges them to speak and think in te reo Māori.
Experienced and fluent kaiako help our tauira to progress to conversational ability.
Madison, who works as a home-based learning co-ordinator for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, said she wanted to give back to the country that gave her a home “and to keep up with what my kids were learning at school”.
She did this by learning te reo Māori.
Her goal was to hold a basic conversation in te reo Māori, but the more she attended class, the more she found she was falling in love with the language.
“Doing the level 4 full immersion programme really helped prepare me for the level 5 (Te Rōnakitanga ki te Reo Kairangi) class as I was able to start the year feeling confident with basic conversations,” says Madison.
“The extra face to face time with the noho (live in marae weekends) helped solidify the self-directed learning and ensured I made some new friends for life.”
Her goals for her te reo Māori have now changed.
“I hope to continue my studies further and deepen my understanding of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (the language and its nuances). I want to be another person who can kōrero Māori to help keep this beautiful language alive.”
Madison says her time in class at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has been and continues to be “amazing”.
What stands out for her is how welcoming everyone has been, not only of her but her entire whānau.
“I have three children, and they have been welcome at classes and noho, which means we’re all learning together, and it has also made it easier to keep up with my studies when childcare arrangements fell through.”
“My kaiako, Duncan, really made the whole programme come to life. His passion for te reo shines through while he is teaching. You can’t help but be inspired to keep challenging yourself, ahakoa te aha (whatever happens). Duncan is a wealth of knowledge which he generously shared with his distinct brand of humour and enthusiasm.”