It's not every day you can say you started a hapū. It's exciting, scary and immensely satisfying all at the same time. Our hapū is not connected by land or a specific tipuna but by our passion and pure will to bring te reo Māori into our lives, into our homes and into our every day existence!
Pre-european Māori functioned in extended whānau groups or Hapū. Hapū were dynamic , moving and fluid adapting to their environment. They also functioned as a supportive network for its members providing shelter, sustenance and protection.
We have a group of 30 adults currently learning Māori in our local community class. We are a diverse bunch of Māori and non Māori of various ages and from all walks of life. At the beggining of 2016 we established a community class for beginners taking them from the basics to advanced kōrero. To our astonishment this eclectic bunch of reo learners started to become more of a whānau, encouraging one another, providing support and sustenance! Not too dissimilar from the traditional role of the extended whānau.
As for our reo hapū, we put the idea to our class to make the supportive network they had organically created into something more. We asked if they would consider creating a community of reo speakers , a community of people who are passionate and serious about ensuring the reo is passed down to our tamariki and mokopuna. We would support and encourage each other for life! After the three year weekly lessons end, we will continue to meet regularly outside of the classroom environment to engage in fun whānau activities with Te Reo Māori as the primary language.
Our belief is that the reo conveys a world view unique to Māori. Each word is related to another word, words are combined to make new words, there are small words to connect larger concepts, the presence or absence of the smallest word can change a whole kōrero, an innocent word can be used to denigrate, a seemingly mundane word can be used to elevate, a difficult concept can be explained or passed down using metaphors drawing from the surrounding environment. The reo inherently shows the world how we treat others, how we expect to be treated, how we see the world we speak about.
It could've been a hard sell, here we had thirty individuals never connected by anything before our classes, who started out wanting to learn a 'language' , now being asked 'hey wanna start a hapū' . Some would have run a mile. However as we put the idea forward to the roopu, using our best sales pitch , with ideas of grandeur and visions of a harmonious future where we all spoke fluent māori, they simply stared at us like 'yeah, I thought we were already doing that' . What we hadn't anticipated was that in the year they had already been learning, the reo had inadvertently converted them. Quietly working its way into their belief system, changing their view of the world. The reo had already formed a hapū, an extended whānau who will protect, shelter and provide sustenance.
Our hapū is Te Puna Ihi Manaaki.