Top of the South and West Coast Iwi achieves national recognition for excellence in Te Reo Māori.
Promoting the use of te reo Māori amongst younger members has earned national recognition for Top of the South Island and West Coast Iwi Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. The Mana Rangatahi program has been selected as a finalist in this year’s National Māori Language Awards hosted by The Māori Language Commission, at Te Papa in Wellington on Friday 24th November 2017.
Commencing in 2004, the national Māori language awards recognise and celebrate excellence and long-term commitment to te reo Māori from individuals, groups and organisations throughout Aotearoa. From over a hundred nominations, only 23 finalists will be considered for this year’s awards. Three finalists have been nominated for the Rangatahi or Youth category, one of whom is the Mana Rangatahi program operated by Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. They are the only finalist in this category from the Te Tauihu Region.
Kiley Nepia, Cultural Advisor for Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō was humbled to learn of the nomination for the national award in excellence and long term commitment to te reo Māori.
The nomination of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō as a finalist in the youth section, is for their innovative Mana Rangatahi program. This is a six day experiential wānanga designed specifically for the youth of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō.
The key objective of the Mana Rangatahi wananga program has been to empower and develop Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō youth identified as potential or future leaders for the Iwi. Each wānanga journeys throughout the traditional tribal homelands of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, retracing the footsteps of their ancestors, learning te reo Māori, waiata, whakapapa, and karakia. The Mana Rangatahi program is part of a succession plan to ensure that the Iwi’s next generation of leaders have a strong sense of what it means to be Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. The critical pathway is achieving that is strengthening connection to their language and cultural identity.
“Language and cultural revitalisation experts believe that it only takes one generation to lose a language but three to regenerate it” Crucial to our language and culture revitalisation is our cultural and language strategy, Te Ohonga Ake” said Kiley Nepia .
Like most other Iwi, the effects of colonisation on Māori have had a devastating effect on the cultural identity particularly on smaller Iwi like Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, who according to Kiley Nepia, suffered dramatically.
“While we have a long way to go to normalise the speaking of te reo Māori amongst our wider Iwi, we have already seen significant transformation occurring amongst the youth of our Iwi” added Nepia.
Kiley Nepia believes it is successes such as this that show they are on the right track. “They (our Rangatahi) are proud to be Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. They are proud to be learning and speaking te reo Māori and they are aware of the important role they play in revitalising te reo Māori in our Iwi”.
Having emerged from the recent Waitangi Claims settlement process Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō are investing significant time, energy and resources into strengthening Māori cultural identity
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