Learning te reo Māori is a journey that requires you to leave your comfort zone and isn’t confined to the walls of a classroom.
To grow your knowledge, you have to put your learning into practice and make kōrero Māori part of your everyday life.
Like many, Rotorua local Matt Browning, found this part of the journey difficult. He struggled to find places to kōrero Māori and he battled with feelings of whakamā and was worried to make mistakes.
All of this resulted in Matt, together with Kōtihi Reo Consultants, creating Kōrero Mai; an app that allows users to discover places where they can immerse themselves in te reo Māori.
“I thought, what if I immersed myself deliberately. How do I do that, how do I know where people are? If I can find other people who I can speak with and are happy with me practicing, then great. If I go and get coffee every day, then why don’t I get coffee from a place where I know I can speak te reo Māori and they can speak back to me,” says Matt.
Matt began his reo Māori journey a few years back after realising that many of his friends and those in his community spoke Māori.
“It’s a beautiful language. It felt like the right thing to do to be able to connect with friends and be more a part of the community. For me, as a Pākehā, I wanted to connect and pay respect to tangata whenua.”
He admits that it hasn’t been an easy journey and it’s taken him a while to find a programme and an environment that suited his ability and lifestyle.
Matt currently studies reo Māori through Kōtihi Reo Consultants. He also works with them to make sure all the reo Māori is correct on Kōrero Mai and they offer their resources and services through it.
Kōrero Mai can be accessed on a phone, computer, tablet, or via their website, and is free for both users and those who want to list their business.
“I really want kaipakihi (businesses) to sign up. I know it’s hard to fill in another form, but this will be well received by people. I get so many people who want to use it but it’s not available in their region yet.”
While Matt continues his journey to learn reo Māori and grow Kōrero Mai, he also encourages others to step out of their comfort zone and learn te reo.
“When you take the time to learn the reo you are also learning tikanga and culture. It deepens your connection with people and community. It’s an enriching experience.”
To find out more about Kōrero Mai or register your business, visit www.koreromai.nz.