Tag Archives: Language

Talking with Waatea

Today we visited Radio Waatea and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Radio Waatea is a radio station that broadcasts nearly only in Māori. The station is unique in the fact that it is situated within the Marae itself. Moreover, the Auckland War Memorial Museum has many exhibits, including one that displays Māori art, weaponry, canoes and a beautiful, historic Marae. There is also a culture rich exhibit, which displays and dissects the Treaty of Waitangi. It was incredible to see the immense efforts taken to preserve Māori culture.

Waatea Radio

We were invited into the Marae, where the radio station does their broadcasting. Broadcasting in Māori is culturally significant as it prevents the language from dying and makes Māori the mainstream. This is especially true with technology can disseminate information and reach a wider audience. While talking about preserving languages, one of the broadcasters said that “the language breathes if the environment allows for it”. I thought this was extremely insightful, because to encourage more Māori to speak their native language, there needs resources and spaces that make it possible. The radio station is doing exactly that.

Following the radio station, we visited one of the classrooms. It was vibrant and full of artwork that the students had done. The students sang songs in Māori, which is another great example of creating an environment that allows for the language to breathe.

Students singing Māori songs


For me, the visit to the radio station stood out the most. As stated previously, it is an urban Māori radio station located on the Marae. Even more however, the Marae works to help support their local community; there is a food bank, social workers on site, an elementary (primary) school, and a support system for people who are struggling. In targeting some social issues, the Marae provides the community with positive influences.

Again, the Marae had me in awe. I was completely amazed to see that they had such a strong support system to sustain their people, their language and culture. Throughout time, Maori have been told how they can and cannot govern their people, resources, and land. Each opportunity for sovereignty has been met with limitation. However, in creating a space where Maori people can raise their kids, sustain their families, and live together as an Indigenous community, the people of the Waatea Marae have created a means for their own sovereignty and self-reliance.


First Day in Aotearoa

Aug 24, 2017

Our first day in Aotearoa, New Zealand, was very eventful! First thing in the morning, all fifteen of us students met up with our professors, Josh Reid and Chris Teuton, at the Waipapa Marae in Auckland. Upon arriving at the Marae, we were greeted by Aroha Harris, a high-raking Māori “speaker of women.” She was kind enough to usher us onto the Waipapa Marae to be welcomed by our Māori hosts at the University of Auckland. Our hosts made a beautiful speech welcoming us in Māori, which they also translated into English so we could understand. They then sung us a famous traditional Māori song, complete with dancing and hand gestures! In response our professor, Chris Teuton, gave a speech entirely in Māori thanking them for their hospitality! All of our hosts were very impressed. After his speech, we all sang a Māori song that we had learned together during our orientation sessions. It is also customary for guests to bring gifts when being welcomed onto a Māori marae, so we gave our hosts a bag full of special handmade jewelry and other unique gifts from back home in Seattle! After that, our gracious hosts took the time to give us a tour of their communal house, their “wharenui,” and explained to us the meanings of the beautiful carvings covering the walls. Usually, each carving represents a specific ancestor, and the carving ensures their story will be told and remembered through time, but in this marae the carvings represented the many first captains and navigators who journeyed to New Zealand from Polynesia. After the tour, they offered us coffee and breakfast with delicious homemade smoked salmon frittatas, pastries, sandwiches, and much more! They encouraged us to eat and waited for all of us to grab food first, which is customary in Māori culture before the guests and hosts can freely interact. Our incredible experience at the marae reflected the emphasis on representation through story-telling and tradition (especially hospitality) in Māori culture that we’ve been reading about for the last couple weeks!

The entrance to the sacred wharenui (communal house) at Waipapa Marae in Auckland, featuring a few members of our class and our professors, Professor Reid and Professor Teuton.

After the Marae, we schlepped our bags across town and hopped on a bus to Paihia, a small beach town in New Zealand’s scenic Bay of Islands. After the long 5-hour bus ride, we arrived at our rental house and had an amazing community dinner cooked by Professor Teuton’s wife and family, and with local foods gifted from Ms. Harris! With bellies full of food and jet-lag setting in, we decided to call it an early night in order to be ready for the next day’s adventures!

— Nikki