PORSE Educator Judith Turoa is giving the tamariki in her care something she never had - a love of te reo Māori.
When Judith was growing up in Auckland, speaking te reo was not encouraged. Her parents would speak te reo together but never passed it down to their children because it simply wasn’t done then.
Judith, 54, grew up with almost no knowledge of her own language.
It wasn’t until her own son was learning more about his culture and getting involved with kapa haka at school that she decided to really connect with her own culture.
“I was 38 when I first started te reo lessons. I was curious about my own culture and I wanted to be able to speak with my son, that’s what it really stemmed from.”
She sent her son to a Māori immersion school because she felt her own knowledge was lacking and she could not guide him with his cultural learning.
“I had mixed emotions about learning a language that had been discouraged when I was younger. I didn’t realise the importance of it being part of my identity until I started taking te reo lessons.”
Her learning journey may have taken a little longer than most, but now Judith incorporates te reo into her –daily routines as a PORSE In-Home Educator. The four children she cares for greet her as Whaea Judy when they arrive at her Papakura home. Once they’ve settled in, she starts the day with a karakia or prayer to bless the day ahead.
The constant use of te reo in her home means the children are familiar and comfortable with the language.
“The children comprehend what I’m saying. They count in reo and know all their colours. The ‘Ma is White’ song is very much a favourite.”
Judith is still very much on her own te reo learning journey and keeps a word list on her fridge so she is constantly introducing new words to conversations. She is making a special effort to use more reo during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.
PORSE, New Zealand’s leading in-home childcare provider, supports Māori language week by providing Educators with a range of resource sheets including te reo words and phrases, pronunciation guides and Māori legends to share with the tamariki in their care.
“I’m so passionate about the job and enjoy sharing a little te reo with their growing minds,” Judith says."