Te Wiki o te Reo Māori grows year after year and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision provides a wealth of material for language learners at all levels. Now is a great time to engage with this content, and the material in the Ngā Taonga collection speaks to the kaupapa of the Week’s theme of Kia Kaha te Reo Māori – ‘let’s make the Māori language strong.’
The Archive’s collections contain recorded te reo going back to 1930 and includes recordings of waiata, whaikōrero, kapa haka, radio broadcasts, television programmes and films. The four exhibitions of archival audio that make up Ngā Taonga Kōrero are a great introduction to what Ngā Taonga holds.
Many famous and historic reo speakers can be heard and seen, including King Korokī, Te Puea Hērangi, Dame Whina Cooper, Sir Apirana Ngata, Dame Mira Szaszy and many others. It also demonstrates the role iwi stations have played in the ongoing revitalisation of the Māori language.
One staff member who works closely with the Ngā Taonga Kōrero collection is Te Aranga Hakiwai, a Collection Developer, Kaiwhakawhanake Kohikohinga. Hakiwai started at the Archive as an intern. As a fluent reo speaker, he catalogued archival recordings in te reo. He now helps bring new material into the collection, much of it from iwi radio sources.
Hakiwai sees great value in the archival material he works with. ‘It lets you learn more about your culture and the history of Aotearoa,’ he explains. ‘Māori believe that the past lies in front of you, because you can see it. The future is behind you as you don’t know what’s going to happen.’ He finds this a really good way to think about the work he does. ‘Ngā Taonga is an embodiment of that belief.’
A great introduction to te reo and Māori customs can be heard in the Ngā Taonga online catalogue. Recorded for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in 1985, it features Haare Williams in conversation with host Philip Liner. Williams opens with ‘E ngā iwi o te motu tēnā koutou katoa, tēnā koe Philip, ko te mōhiotanga rā tēnei mō ngā taonga o Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.
‘To the people of the nation, greetings. Hello Phillip, this is a show about the treasures of Māori Language Week.’ He then presents a range of clips that explain aspects of Māoritanga and tikanga and introduces a number of waiata, poems and recordings of other speakers.
Though well-versed in te reo, Hakiwai has found plenty of opportunities to learn while listening to older material from the collection. ‘Hearing early radio recordings from up North was interesting. Lots of transliterations were used’, meaning a Māori word that mimics the sound of an English word – tākuta for doctor, for example. ‘I developed an ear for it, figuring out what each word meant.’
With the archival recordings Ngā Taonga hold, there’s a chance for everyone to learn something new. By engaging with these recordings and knowing the language you can help keep it strong. And you can also see what lies in front of you by looking back to the past.