Ko te wiki ō te reo Māori tēnei, (This week, is Māori language week) I began my journey learning te reo Māori, almost 3 years ago. He tino uaua tēnei mōku. It is unquestionably the hardest thing I have ever done. To be a Māori without your reo, without your tikanga, was an all too common thing for my generation. It still is.

Zane Wedding heeding the karanga of Ihumātao.
Heeding the karanga of Ihumātao.

I te tau tautahi (the first year) of my reo studies was met by a small roadblock … literally.

I would stop attending class to heed the karanga(call) of Ihumātao. Fortunately for me, so would my kaiako and nearly every other tauira in my class. Te reo Māori lessons take on a new meaning, when they are being held at the frontline of a land occupation. You start to realise you are not just learning a language, when the waiata you learnt in class are being sung by a 100 people surrounded by 300 police, in a struggle for whenua that has lasted 150 years. 

I te tau tuarua (in the second year) of my te reo studies I would get new kaiako and join a new kaitiaki occupation. On the frontlines of Canal Road, I would be given my most valuable lesson in all of my te reo studies. A lesson I keep telling myself again and again. 


The whakama (shame) I feel for not having my language is intensely real.  At this point I could not stand and confidently do a mihi, even though at times I am asked too, Kei te mohio au (I know) I cannot follow the tikanga of my tupuna. He mamae tenei mōku (this hurts me), I can not recite my whakapapa, my pepeha, I have never set foot on my Marae. He taumaha tenei mo tōku wairua, (This weight is heavy on my soul). 

Heoi ano (however), as I gain my reo and my tikanga I can feel myself shedding that power colonisation has over me.

I tenei tau ka korero au i te reo Māori, (this year I will speak te reo Māori). 

Engari he huarahi mutunga kore, (but the journey has no end). 

Kaore ahau i te ako i te reo Māori anake, (I am not only learning the Māori language.)  Kei te ako au i nga akoranga ō ōku tīpuna (I am learning the lessons of my ancestors), lessons they fought so hard to give me.

My Tupuna wants me to have my reo. They have chosen who they want to be my kaiako.  Every lesson has brought me closer to defending te taiao (the environment) they wanted me to learn at Ihumatao and Canal Road. Now they have lessons to give me here at Greenpeace, 

Your tupuna have lessons for you, when you start to reclaim your reo you begin a journey that will give you so much more than just a language. 

He huarahi mutunga kore. A journey with no end.