West Auckland seniors prove it’s never too late to learn te reo
Heather White, Doris Selwyn and Karline Boag of Metlifecare’s Waitākere Gardens celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori
Their very first te reo workshop
The residents of a retirement village in Henderson kicked off Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with a bang.
On Monday, 9 September the residents of Metlifecare’s Waitakere Gardens attended their very first te reo workshop in celebration of Māori Language Week. The half day session introduced the residents to beginner te reo as well as culturally significant activities such as poi making.
Residents Doris Selwyn, Heather White, and Karline Boag were thrilled with the chance to learn something new and said they look forward to exploring more Māori culture long after the week ends.
Heather adds, “We’re very keen to jump on the band wagon when the All Blacks do the haka, but why don’t we know a bit about it ourselves?”
“I was born in New Zealand, I should know more about New Zealand history and the Māori culture,” says Karline.
Leanne MacDonald, Village Manager, says it was a fantastic initiative that the residents thoroughly enjoyed during an important week for Aotearoa.
Tākina’s Ropata Paora wants to share te reo with as many people as possible
“Metlifecare recently conducted a joint study with AUT which highlighted the benefits of social and intellectual activities in maintaining the ongoing wellbeing of older adults. It’s not just about diet and exercise, it’s also about ensuring you are fulfilled emotionally, spiritually, occupationally, intellectually and socially.”
“Studies have also demonstrated that bilingualism improves cognition in all ages and that learning a new language later in life is especially beneficial as it helps exercise the brain.”
Residents of Metlifecare’s Waitākere Gardens learning their vowels
“Outside the cognitive benefits of learning a second language, Māori culture is such an integral part of Aotearoa so this is a wonderful opportunity for our residents to learn more about the tangata whenua and tikanga Māori through poi making,” says MacDonald.
Following their morning introduction to te reo, the residents enjoyed a light lunch before their poi making session in the afternoon.
In addition to the cognitive benefits of learning a new language later in life, in 2017 a clinical trial conducted by the Centre for Brain Research and University of Auckland established the benefits of poi on physical and cognitive function in healthy older adults.
The study, led by doctoral student Kate Riegle van West, found after just one month of poi lessons, participants improved their balance, grip strength, memory and attention.
The workshop at Waitakere Gardens was led by kaiako (teacher) Ropata Paora and assisted by Moana-Roa Callaghan, two passionate teachers of te reo who hope to share the language with as many New Zealanders as they can through Ropata’s company, Tākina.
Doris Selwyn and Heather White making poi
Māori Language Week, which took place from 9 – 15 September 2019, is part of a broader revival of the Māori language.
For more information on Te Wiki o te Reo Māori please visit: www.tewikiotereomaori.co.nz
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