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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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Learning te reo together are this Gisborne family. Pictured are Adam Niwa (left) and Shannon Maats-Niwa (right)and from left are Ashanti, Kahanui, Genius and Khymera. Picture supplied 

 Their children and a desire to keep their culture alive are inspiration behind two determined te reo māori students at EIT Tairāwhiti.

Shannon Maats-Niwa and husband Adam Niwa have four children from teenagers to 18 months. They both work and this year have committed to learning level one and two te reo Māori at EIT Tairāwhiti, Te Whatukura. 

It has not been easy juggling everything but they are loving learning reviving the language of their ancestors. 

The night classes are good and Wednesdays are a mission, but we get there.” 

Add covid 19 into the mix and it has been “extra cray cray in our routine”, Shannon laughs.  

“I was working from home and we had the kids … it was a challenge but we got there. I really enjoyed the zoom classes.” 

Next term, Shannon and Adam are looking forward to moving on to level three.  

“It is a dying art and it is our art – it is good to keep that part of our culture alive.” 

Apart from that, there are a few main reasons behind Shannon’s decision to learn the language. 

“I have always had an interest. I am a nurse and I have been picking it up a little from my patients 

Her desire to keep up with her two younger children coming home from Kohanga and Waikirikiri School speaking te reo was another inspiration. 

“We can practie with each other and the kids.” 

“Also, Adam’s mum is a kaikaranga and is very encouraging. She would love to see Adam on the paepae. 

Shannon enjoys the teaching style of tutor Rhonda Tibble. 

“She uses comedy ... it is good for eliminating fear. She is able to make us laugh when we make a mistake and that helps the learning. 

“Repetition is another technique which has worked well for us and adding actions cements it further.” 

Learning level one to four te reo Māori at EIT Tairāwhiti is free.  

Enrolments are being taken now for both Gisborne and Ruatorea next term which starts on July 20. 

Go to the EIT Tairāwhiti website Māori Studies or call into the main office in Palmerston Road for more information