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All Black touts return to Maori language

24 January 2005

All Black touts return to Maori language

Buck Shelford is endorsing a return to te reo Maori following his induction into Te Ataarangi’s total-immersion Maori language programme.

The former All Black captain tackled the course last year and says it has added plenty to his understanding of things Maori.

“I’ve been at uni the past 10 years doing all sorts of papers but language is very interesting to me having lived in France and Japan, and having had my father speak te reo to us as kids,” says Shelford.

“I’ve just hit the point in life where I wanted to learn my language because as European Kiwis we should understand our culture first. It’s a lovely language.

“It is frustrating not being able to understand what is being said on the marae but I’m getting there.”

Te Ataarangi is a well-established method of learning and teaching the Mäori language, with courses available throughout New Zealand.

It is a total-immersion programme that has provided hundreds of students with a high level of fluency and ability in te reo Mäori.

Te Ataarangi is best known for its use of räkau, or cuisenaire rods, for learning. Using the räkau is simple and works successfully for all levels of learners, so even students with no knowledge of te reo Mäori, quickly and easily learn to speak confidently.

As for Shelford’s future with Te Ataarangi, he says there’ll be plenty more immersion in Maori.

“I just want to keep learning until I can speak it fluently and with my work in Japan and the use of CDs and DVDs self-learning is a reality. The Te Ataarangi course is not about learning the kaupapa so much as it is the language and keeping it simple. The tutors are there for the right reasons too.

“Watching our young learn is great too but I always think back to the saying; ‘if your language dies your people die’. Without the reo we are nothing and to have a society that grows up by our true language is essential nowdays.”

“The language is the culture and the culture is the language.”


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