Me kōrero Māori i ngā wā katoa, i ngā wāhi katoa (Making every week Māori language week at Whanganui Hospital)


6 September 2018

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) staff are so eager to learn Te Reo Māori, demand has led to booked-out courses and staff ‘lining up’ to attend.

WDHB has been running after hours Te Reo Māori classes for staff during winter for the past two years. More classes are planned for this October to cater for the large number of staff wanting to learn the language.

Te Hau Ranga Ora kaiuringi director of Māori Health Rowena Kui says staff have embraced the opportunity and attended in their own time with the limited numbers for each class filling up in minutes.

The courses, run in conjunction with Whanganui UCOL, are about giving staff the basics and encouraging them to give the language ‘a go’.

“We know it takes years of practice to become fluent but even pronouncing patients’ names correctly or a friendly ‘Kia ora’, ‘Morena’, ‘Ahiahi mārie’ or ‘Pōmārie’, goes some way to help Māori feel more welcome,” Mrs Kui says.

Māori make up about a quarter of the Whanganui district population - 40 percent of whom are children.

Mrs Kui says on average Māori do not enjoy the same health as non-Māori so the DHB is committed to change, improving equity and accelerating improved health outcomes for Māori.

Class tutor and DHB haumoana educator Mal Rerekura says the aim is for staff to use some words every day and in doing so, build their confidence and understanding.

He suggests sounding out street names, learning simple waiata and the national anthem, listening to Māori radio and TV and using the internet to learn a new word a day or a week.

For class participant and nurse manager Declan Rogers the chance to learn Te Reo Māori was also a chance to better understand Māori culture. He says tutor and DHB haumoana-whānau navigator Ned Tapa taught the kupu (words) in context of the culture.

“We learned about the significance of the Whanganui awa (river) and various landmarks and did some weaving, sang lots of waiata and there was a great deal of laughter,” Mr Rogers says.