March 23, 2020
Cloak of care supporting Deaf
New Zealand’s new deaf education school and service network has a new Māori name because it’s easy to sign.
Ko Taku Reo merges the Kelston Deaf Education Centre in Auckland and the van Asch Deaf Education Centre in Christchurch.
Board chair Denise Powell says the name takes inspiration from the whakatauki “Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria”, which is being interpreted as “my language is the plume of my identity.”
The sign name includes a classifier for feathers to represent ‘plume’ where the hand starts at the shoulder and floats down, symbolic of the wearing of a Māori cloak.
This is a metaphor for Ko Tāku Reo wrapping around the student to support them and their whānau.
It also signifies the importance of tapping the shoulder in Deaf culture, which is considered a polite way to ask for someone’s attention.
By some estimates, up to half of New Zealand’s deaf population could be Māori.
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