Championing wider access to te reo for urban Māori whānau

15 June 2017
Hemi Dale, urban Māori representative on the Board of Te Mātāwai.
Hēmi Dale, urban Māori representative on the Board of Te Mātāwai.

Hēmi Dale, Director of Māori Medium Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, has been recently appointed as the urban Māori representative on the 13-member Board of Te Mātāwai.

Te Mātāwai is a new organisation established under Te Ture mō te Reo Māori 2016 (The Māori Language Act 2016) for the purpose of leading the revitalisation of te reo Māori on behalf of iwi and Māori.  

“I am absolutely ecstatic about the opportunity to contribute strategically to the revitalisation of the Māori language at a national level!” Hēmi says.

The major focus of Te Mātāwai is the development of a national strategic plan for Māori language revitalisation. The draft strategic plan - Te Maihi Reo - has been developed over the past year.   

Te reo Māori in the urban space

“More than 80 percent of Māori live in an urban setting. Essentially my role is to advocate on behalf of urban Māori  to ensure that the national strategic revitalisation plan provides multiple opportunities for urban Māori to access te reo Māori and engage in Māori speaking communities. Imagine a time when the acquisition and use of te reo Māori in the home, community and kura is seamless and normal – that’s the place we’re heading to," Hēmi says.

Hēmi’s selection for this role has been praised by leaders in the sector such as Pānia Papa, the Waikato Tainui representative on Te Mātāwai.

In a recent radio interview, Pānia says:

“He's got an affinity with the urban space, he has a deep appreciation and love for te reo and is committed to building the guild of teachers who are moving in to rumaki total immersion environments to become teachers of te reo. That is a huge commitment as well.”

Expertise in Māori medium Education

Hēmi has been actively engaged in the Māori-medium sector of education for the last 30 years. As the Director of Māori Medium Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work he coordinates the immersion teacher training pathway - Te Huarahi Māori. (which this year celebrates 21 years of this programme. This programme which grows teachers who are able to teach the school curriculum through the medium of te reo Māori this year celebrates 21 years of operation.  

Within this programme Hēmi teaches a range of courses, which include tikanga ā iwi (social sciences), pakirehua ngaio (professional inquiry), iwi taketaketanga (indigeneity studies), te hopu reo (language acquisition) and te reo Māori. 

Hēmi’s research over the last 20 years has centred on informing and supporting the development of Māori-medium education in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Since 1995 Hēmi’s particular research focus has been the creation of Māori-centred curricula in particular the development and redevelopment of the national Māori medium Tikanga ā Iwi curriculum. Since 2012, Hēmi has been leading the development of the Māori medium NCEA standards for the tikanga ā iwi (social sciences), hītori (history), matawhenua (geography) and ōhanga (economics) learning areas.

A vision for te reo Māori revitalisation

Hēmi’s vision as urban Māori representative is also informed by his personal experience witnessing the growth of te reo Māori revitalisation in urban New Zealand communities over the last few decades.

“I belong to the Te Rarawa and Te Aupōuri tribes in the Far North. My generation are the first generation that grew up in towns as a result of urban migration from the 1950s onwards.

“I grew up in Māngere and was able to begin learning te reo Māori formally at Māngere College. The opportunity to learn te reo Māori at secondary school was one that arose out of the struggle of Ngā Tamatoa and the Te Reo Māori Society. Māori social action over the last 40 years has seen a huge range of innovative developments in regard to the revitalization of te reo Māori.

“As urban Māori representative I will seek to extend existing opportunities, and grow new opportunities, for urban Māori whānau to access te reo Māori.

Ko te reo Māori te manawapou, te waimanawa me te wai aroha o te iwi Māori.

Watch Hēmi Dale being interviewed on Maori TV about his new role