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Mum's Te Reo Māori journey inspired by tamariki

Larissa Ngapeka isn’t Māori herself – but her husband and son’s whakapapa are at the heart of her decision to begin learning te reo Māori.


Larissa, an assistant manager at ANZ Palmerston North, is learning te reo as part of Te Waka-ā-Reo – the language component of ANZ’s Takiri-Ā-Rangi Te Ao Māori strategy.



The strategy was launched earlier this year, and promises to incorporate Māori world views like manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and whanaungatanga into everything ANZ New Zealand does – and part of that is educating staff about tikanga and reo.


“A big part of me wanting to learn more about te reo and te ao Māori was, aside from a few words and colours, I don't know much,” Larissa says.


“Te reo is a massive part of our country’s history, and we need to embrace it and learn a lot more about it - not only the language, but the history too.”


As well as her own curiosity, she says she wants to learn for her husband and kids, who affiliate with Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu, so they can learn through her.

"I want to make a change within our whānau and I want my kids to grow up confident and comfortable speaking te reo, hearing it in songs, and reading it in books."

Larissa Ngapeka, Assistant Manager, ANZ Palmerston North.



“My husband Jesse was never taught te reo, and that's simply because his parents were never taught it – his grandfather wasn’t allowed to speak it - so it wasn't passed down."


“I want to make a change within our whānau and I want my kids to grow up confident and comfortable speaking te reo, hearing it in songs, and reading it in books and knowing their whakapapa,” she says.


“I don't want them to see or hear things written or said in Māori, and feel as though they can't try to speak those words."


“It's a massive part of who my son and husband are, and I see the course as an opportunity to help my whanau learn more about their own heritage.”


Across the country, 90 ANZ staff in six groups have taken up the course so far, the first modules of which focus on the historical context of te reo, before moving into pronunciation and vocabulary building.


Larissa admits - like many New Zealanders  -  she was unaware she was saying many Māori words wrong.


“I have always been confident in saying place names like Taupō correctly - but it wasn't until a few years ago that I learned the place my dad grew up in, that we always visited, was pronounced Waitara, as I had always known it as ‘Waitra’,” she said.


“It's those types of experiences that make me eager to learn te reo - I want to be able to raise my son to speak it in a respectful way.”


ANZ New Zealand Te Kaitohu Rautaki Māori Karleen Everitt said she was proud to see ANZ staff taking up the opportunity to learn.


“ANZ’s te reo Māori Programme enhances what we do as a business and celebrates our unique culture in Aotearoa New Zealand,” she said.


“The team - Mori Rapana our Pou Arataki (Cultural Advisor Consultant), Erica Te Huna, Rozana Kremm, Annette Boot and Tania Ruth have been working so very hard to bring Te Waka-Ā-Reo to life, with incredible results."


“We have much more work to do as we look to the future of the programme.”


September 14 - during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2022 - will mark 50 years since the Māori language petition was delivered to parliament in 1972.


The petition asked for active recognition of te reo Māori, and carried more than 30,000 signatures, becoming the starting point for a significant revitalisation of te reo in New Zealand.


Presented by Hana Jackson and Ngā Tamatoa, the aspiration of the petition was that te reo Māori should be a taonga for all of Aotearoa New Zealand to nurture, protect and revitalise.


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