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Ruebin Reti - tauira te reo Māori

From someone with no te reo Māori knowledge to now being able to speak te reo Māori all day, every day if he chose, Ruebin Reti has evolved into a beacon of inspiration.

The Māori mental health support worker enrolled in He Pī ka Pao Level 1 and 2 with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2020 and has never looked back.

“I was embarrassed. I’m a Māori, but I grew up very pākehā, and I didn’t know any (reo Māori). I remember being at a noho marae in the Navy. I was expected to know and understand, but I couldn’t. It was a traumatic experience that I carried with me. But my cousin, who I’m very close with, studied and picked it up quite quick. I thought, if she can do it, then I can.”

Now in his fifth year, studying Te Pīnakitanga ki te Reo Kairangi Level 7, he’s quietly proud of how far he’s come and how far his ripples of learning have extended. His wife is enrolled in her second year (Te Pūtaketanga o te Reo Level 4), and their tamariki are learning alongside them both.

“My kids are learning too. I can give them instructions and they pick it up. I never thought we’d be able to speak Māori at home. Even little instructional things, if it’s not right, it’s the matter of trying.”

Ruebin’s new passion for reo Māori has led him to host reo sessions at home every Sunday, where friends and whānau gather to wānanga. He can gently guide them with their sentence structures and pronunciation.

Some are also studying with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, following sparks of curiosity when Ruebin began to learn and converse more. He wants them all to have the same proficiency as him so they can spread their knowledge like he has.

His learning extends into his mahi as well. His reo Māori has been embraced, and he’s become a leader in Māoritanga, helping with translations, teaching others about suitable karakia and holistic models, and speaking at pōwhiri and whakatau. He has even passed on his skillset to his clients, allowing them to whaikōrero while he supports them.

Ruebin has attended classes at the Tūkārere campus in Tauranga and is grateful for each kaiako he’s had throughout his journey.

“Different teaching styles is what you want. You don’t want the same. They are in that teaching position for a reason; there are always gems inside their teaching, even if it is not your learning style.”

He intends to continue his reo journey, hoping to enrol in Te Tohu Paerua o Te Reo Kairangi Level 9 in 2025.

He understands now that if he hadn’t enrolled in 2020, he would be lost or just chasing the money in a capitalist world.

“I’m happier and more settled. You can get lost growing up, but I know who I am now. I realise I was missing much of my holistic self, but learning reo has filled my whare tapawhā. It humbles you and brings you back down to earth.”

Ruebin knows first-hand that stepping into a classroom and admitting you don’t know what you’re up to can be scary as an adult. But he discovered that by making class attendance a non-negotiable, his reo improved quickly.

“The days I don’t want to come are when I learn the most. Everybody around here wants you to thrive; sometimes, the only person holding you back is yourself. It’s a safe space. Give it a crack.”

Learn more about our reo Māori (language) programmes

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Published On: 24 April 2024

Article By: Gemma Bradly-Jacka

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