September 06, 2019
Student roll call laid foundation for reo advance
As Māori language advocates prepare for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, a member of Victoria University's Te Reo Māori Society is remembering where it all began.
Joe Te Rito says the society grew out of the classes run by Koro Dewes from Ngāti Porou, and it used to meet on Monday nights at the university's tennis pavilion to practice waiata and whaikōrero and hear from speakers like Pine Taiapa and Api Mahuika.
He says it was the late Hana Te Hemara who came up with the idea of a petition calling for Māori language lessons to be available by right in schools, which eventually garnered 30,000 signatures through a joint collecting effort with Ngā Tamatoa.
"The active members who worked together to organise it all were people like Rangi Nicholson who is now an Anglican minister, Cathy Dewes, Whai Dewes, Tom Roa, Robert Pouwhare, Lee Smith, Micky Rikihana, Hiria Tumoana, Tawini Rangihau, so a lot of the people who are now active in the reo movement were involved in the Te Reo Society way back in the early 1970s when we were students," Mr Te Rito says.
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