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The Reality Of Learning Maori On Maori Television


The Reality Of Learning Maori On Maori Television

Maori Television is offering viewers the chance to witness the hardships and rewards of learning te reo Maori on new series WAKA REO, launching on Sunday August 21 at 7.00 PM.

In this new reality series, 13 young people – strangers from a variety of backgrounds – share a house at Purau Bay to immerse themselves in learning te reo Maori. The ups and downs, tensions, pressures, blowouts and triumphs are enthralling as we watch them challenge themselves and each other in this language pressure-cooker.

It’s also a learning journey for the viewer, as we follow the team challenges, games and exercises the contestants face in their quest to win the $10,000 ultimate prize.

The contestants, tracked all day by cameras, carry out three hours a day of te reo Maori lessons, as well as individual and team challenges. They also participate in the necessary tasks of day-to-day living – cooking, cleaning and generally looking after themselves and each other. To top it off, they have to cope without the usual distractions of daily life – cellphones, TV, MP3, computers, Playstation and non-Maori books included.

While they are allowed to speak English, they are encouraged to use Maori as much as possible. Starting from a very basic level, the contestants move through shyness, frustration, humour and love on their path to learning a new and valuable skill.

Split into two teams, the contestants compete to stay. The team that loses the elimination challenge must vote to send a member home. The twist in this show is that two people are selected by the team to undergo a Maori language quiz. The loser is sent home and each week, the remaining contestants inch forward to win both the $10,000 grand prize and a richer ability to speak te reo Maori.

Their tutors are also the presenters of the series – Te Mihinga Komene, who has a background in acting and as a te reo Maori teacher at Canterbury and Waikato universities, and Corey Kamariera, a Tahu FM breakfast DJ with a passion for te reo Maori.

Te Mihinga (Ngapuhi, Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngati Porou, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whakaue) is a member of the well-known educating and entertaining Papesch family. She has acted in Wellington’s Taki Rua Theatre Te Reo Maori Season and for Free Theatre productions in Christchurch. She has taught te reo Maori at the University of Waikato and the University of Canterbury, where she completed her honours degree, having done her undergraduate studies at Victoria University in Wellington.

Meanwhile, Corey (Te Rarawa) grew up in Feilding, attended Freyberg High School in Palmerston North and now lives in Christchurch. He began learning Maori as an adult when his first child was born, because he wanted to teach te reo Maori to his child. Ten years on, he now has four children and his first child is a fluent te reo speaker attending kura kaupapa. Corey regularly attends the Maori Language Commission-run immersion wananga, Kura Reo.

The contestants are a mixed group and are mostly driven by a desire to learn te reo and tikanga Maori.

The stand-out exception is Adrian, a backpacker from Germany, whose initial motivation was the free food and board offered by the series. As the series progresses, we will see if this attitude changes! And then there’s Corey, an accounts clerk who thinks it will be ‘easy’; Tania, a young mother who wants to learn to teach te reo Maori to her son; Kaylee, the student teacher with ambitions to be a bilingual teacher and Matt, the caregiver who wants to learn the culture of the land he lives in.

Waka Reo is produced by Tahu Communications for Maori Television.

WAKA REO – the reality of learning Maori on Maori Television launches this Sunday August 21 at 7.00 PM.



Year 2005
Censor General Exhibition (G)
Duration 26-part, half-hour series
Language Maori and English languages

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