February 24, 2020
Te reo element in life of art and advocacy
This year's Kiwibank New Zealander of the year says she sees herself as a mere soldier of te reo.
Jennifer Ward-Lealand says her award came not just for the example she has set learning Māori for the past 12 years but for her 40 years in the performing arts and her advocacy for the rights of actors.
She says as a Pakeha her path to learning the language comes with less trauma and baggage than for Māori who may have the trauma of historical suppression – and she does not want her role to be over-stated, and she is the rank and file stoking the fire of te reo.
Jennifer Ward-Lealand says her interest in te reo Māori probably started at the ethnically diverse Te Aro School in inner-city Wellington, but it was her feeling of shame at not being able to respond to a Māori tribute during the filming of Jubilee that drove her to commit.
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