What I found was an amazing bunch of learners, some just like me, with everyone at different stages of their te reo Māori journey. Some Māori, some Pākeha, some more fluent than others, but all supportive and keen to learn.
It's te wiki o te reo Māori and while the focus is on language, if you don't have the time or resources to learn te reo Māori formally, look out for groups in your community. Often a shared activity can be a gentle way to further your knowledge while gaining new skills along the way. Here are a few ideas...
Kapa haka is a way to express Māori language, culture and heritage through song and dance. Some groups are highly practiced and competitive, but many - like ours - are non-competitive and more social.
We're fortunate that my daughter's school has a community kapa haka group and what I love is how much of the reo you pick up, just from being there and singing. And as for the waiata, wow. Some are so powerful and grounding it feels like electricity in your bones. And luckily for me our waita-ā-ringa (action songs) aren't too complicated!
Learn something new like raranga (flax weaving)
There are lots of workshops and community classes where you can learn hauhake tikanga (harvest protocols), raranga (weaving) and the different tikanga around how an item such as kete for example comes together.
There are courses all over the country including a few in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) linked below - please add more for your region in the comments section.
Selwyn College Raranga Kete Wānanga
Onehunga High Raranga for Beginners
If you can't find a class near you, you can learn online with a step-by-step course like this one at Hetet School of Māori Art.
Tākaro or games are a great way to learn too!
Learning while having fun is a great way to cement what you learn along the way. There are lots of free resources and different apps to help you, including interactive online games like this simple fruit and vege quiz by Digital Dialects where you can match the correct kupu Māori with the right picture or the Aki Hauora app for android or Apple with beautiful interactive games and quizzes to level up your te reo Māori.
For hands on games, Tākaro is for everyone 4+ years and relies on recognising 57 different symbols and the correct pronunciation of their Māori names or check out Kaupapa, a beautiful game where you describe as many words as possible to your teammates - the faster you go, the faster you move across the board.
KAUPAPA by Kura Rēhia
50th Anniversary of the Māori language petition
Te Wiki o te reo Māori is extra special this year as the 14th of September marks 50 years since the Māori Language Petition was presented to Parliament with 30,000 signatures. We've come a long way since then, but we know there's still more progress to be made and we can't wait to see te reo Māori as a standard part of the teaching curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand schools so that every child can experience the beauty of this taonga that has been diligently watered, nurtured and strengthened by those who have gone before us.
Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria;
My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.
What's helped you on your journey?
Wherever you're at, we'd love to hear about any resources that have helped you on your Māori language journey - please share in the comments section below.