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Keeping te reo Maori alive through coffee and kai

Manurewa youth give back through cafe

Published: 13 September 2018
Aniwa Whaiapu Koloamatangi (left) and Zivana Maiava are two of the youth who have helped set up a cafe to helping those wanting to practise their te reo Māori in a fun, non-judgemental setting. 

Te Wiki te Reo Maori (Māori Language Week) might be coming to an end, but for those wanting to stay on the language learning waka (boat), there’s the Keepin’ it Reo café in Manurewa.

It’s all thanks to a group of passionate rangatahi (youth) who want to pass on their language skills to those still in the early stages of their learning. 

The youth, who are part of Taiohi Whai Oranga – a Manurewa-based youth development initiative – are all fluent te reo Māori speakers, but to ensure the language is promoted and preserved they have been creating opportunities for those with a passion to learn, to have a korero over a cuppa.

They’ve named the project Keepin’ It Reo which involves them running a café one night a week at local facilities around Manurewa.

Aniwa Whaiapu Koloamatangi says the idea behind the initiative is to provide a relaxed, non-judgemental setting where people can practice their reo.

“We noticed people don’t really speak our language in public places, so this is our way to help people feel more comfortable speaking our language in public and what better way than opening a café, where people can come in and have a coffee and chat.”

The café nights include activities and conversation starters to make it easy for people to use the language no matter their level of proficiency.

Aniwa says being able to give something back to their culture is a big motivating factor.

“We started Keepin’ It Reo as a way to keep our reo alive and thriving and so it’s really great knowing that we're keeping this taonga alive as we’d hate to see it die out.”

Local board empowers Manurewa rangatahi

Thanks to Manurewa Local Board, the group can provide free coffee, food and hire a venue for ten weeks, with the next cafe starting from October through to December at the Manurewa Netball Centre.

Local board chair Angela Dalton says empowering youth in the community to pursue their passion and pass it on, is what the local board is all about.

“We have some amazing young people in our area, and so giving them opportunities like this is not only good for those wanting to improve their te reo skills, but also a way to grow the confidence of our rangatahi.”

For more information about when the next Keepin’ It Reo café is being run go to facebook.com/taiohiwhaioranga