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Te Reo Māori and how it transforms hauora.

Te Reo Māori and how it transforms hauora.

I would like to share some reflections on a topic that holds profound significance for me—the transformative power of Te Reo Māori and its profound connection to hauora, well-being. Today, I invite you to ponder on how Te Reo Māori influences our taha hinengāro (physical well-being), our taha wairua (spiritual well-being), our taha tīnana (physical well-being), and our taha whānau (family well-being). Specifically, I aim to explore what it means to embrace, celebrate, and empower Te Reo Māori, as this endeavour not only uplifts the language but also enriches our own lives and the lives of those within Aotearoa New Zealand.

To commence, let's delve into a whakatauki that resonated with me this week as I contemplated the essence of Te Reo Māori. The whakatauki is -

"He puna wai, he puna kai, he puna Reo, he puna ora, ita a ita,"

"A spring of waTer, a bountiful spring, a spring of language, and a spring of health. Hold fast to that."

Let's examine the components. "He puna wai" signifies being a spring, and when we Contemplate "wai" (water), we recognize its indispensable role in sustaining life and its unique ability to purify spaces, transitioning from tapu to noa. Water symbolizes purity, sustenance, and well-being, crucial elements for our health. Moving on to "he puna kai," while "kai" can denote food, it also represents a bountiful spring—nourishment for our wairua, hinengāro, and whānau.

Next, "he puna Reo," the fountain of language. Te Reo Māori serves as a gateway, a vessel anchoring us in our Māori culture, providing access to the depth and true meaning of things within Te ao Māori. Lastly, "he puna ora," the fountain of health, emphasizes the intrinsic connection between language and well-being. To hold fast to these four springs is to empower and uplift not only us but also others.

Beyond the whakatauki, I want to underscore the broader significance of language. Language encompasses both spoken and unspoken elements, verbal, and nonverbal communication, enabling us to connect, express thoughts, feelings, and experiences across generations. Te Reo Māori, as a vessel, links the past, present, and future, shaping our culture, identity, whakapapa, and providing a profound sense of belonging. Tūrangawaewae, our place of belonging, gains depth and spiritual significance through Te Reo Māori.

Te Reo Māori is more than words; it is a pathway that leads us to stories, waiata, tupuna, and tikanga within Te ao Māori. It allows us to embrace the beauty and treasures of Māori culture. My personal experience at Takiura this year underscored how Te Reo Māori deepens understanding and connection to whakapapa, unveiling aspects not easily expressed in English.

Now, I want to emphasize how Te Reo Māori is a source of strength. Integrating it into our daily lives enhances our well-being and uplifts others. There is no downside to using Te Reo Māori; it empowers and uplifts.


Taha Hinengaro (Mental and Emotional Well-being):

Learning a language, particularly one's own, benefits cognitive functioning. Research shows that bilingualism enhances mental flexibility, resilience, focus, and memory. Learning Te Reo Māori is not only a unique and effective way to boost intelligence but also helps maintain cognitive sharpness, offering protection against aging-related cognitive decline.

Beyond the scientific aspects, Te Reo Māori provides a beautiful medium to express emotions. Whakatauki, whakarite, waiata, haka, and other language Techniques allow for the concise expression of complex ideas. Learning Te Reo Māori opens up new creative ways to express oneself, offering numerous benefits for mental and emotional well-being.

Taha Wairua (Spiritual Well-being):

Wairua, connecting mauri to the past, present, and future, is a vital aspect of spiritual well-being. Te Reo Māori serves as a conduit to nourish wairua, providing access to karakia and waiata, enabling spiritual connection and guidance. Karakia allows us to connect our mauri to the broader mauri of Te Ao, seeking guidance, support, protection, and expressing gratitude.

Our Tīpuna left us valuable lessons and wisdom within purākau, shaping our understanding of maunga, awa, and moana. Te Reo Māori is instrumental in preserving and sharing these Teachings, fostering spiritual well-being through connection to our ancestral knowledge.

Taha Whānau (Family Well-being):

Te Reo Māori not only shapes individual identity but also moulds collective identity within whānau, hapū, and iwi, reflecting shared stories, values, and experiences. Understanding Te Reo Māori is crucial for comprehending the nuances of narratives related to our tiriti, Waitangi, and their impact on our whānau.

In our homes, Te Reo Māori is a blessing, providing a shared language that strengthens family bonds. Children, exposed to Te Reo Māori, effortlessly navigate between languages, fostering cultural fluency and a sense of belonging. Te Reo Māori is a Testament to our stories, values, and shared experiences within Aotearoa, offering insights into the nuances shaped by our tiriti.

Taha Tinana (Physical Well-being):

The physical act of speaking Te Reo Māori engages our tinana in a unique way, involving vocalization, breath control, and facial expressions. It becomes a holistic exercise for our physical selves, reinforcing the interconnectedness of language and the tinana. In essence, Te Reo Māori is not only a mental exercise but also a physical practice that contributes to our overall hauora.

Whenua (Land and Environment):

Te Reo Māori is deeply intertwined with whenua, representing the land and environment that shape the Māori worldview. Language is not just a tool for communication but a reflection of the relationship between tangata and their surroundings. Te Reo Māori encapsulates the unique connection Māori have with the whenua, acknowledging the land as a living entity with its own mauri.

In the context of Te Reo Māori, the language becomes a medium through which the pūrākau of the whenua are told and preserved. The names of places, awa, maunga, and other elements of the taiao embedded in Te Reo Māori carry the essence of the whakapapa of the whenua, cultural significance, and the experiences of those who have traversed it. Speaking Te Reo Māori is, therefore, an act of acknowledging and respecting the whenua.

Te Reo Māori fosters important values and roles we hold as Māori in relation to the whenua from being a Kaitiaki to understanding the tohu within the taiao. Through Te Reo Māori, we can connect with and care for the whenua, recognizing it as a source of identity, spirituality, and sustenance.


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