The tuakana-teina project has been developed in response to an increasing demand for creative ways to learn to speak the Māori language, and for opportunities to use the language.
An introduction to the tuakana-teina project
The tuakana-teina project is based on the premise that each Māori speaker 'adopts' a person who wishes to learn to speak Māori. The Māori speaker assumes the 'tuakana' role in the relationship and continually speaks Māori to the person wishing to learn (the 'teina') as often as possible in everyday settings about everyday things.
The role of the tuakana is to provide constant, good-quality examples, of Māori language use. The tuakana does not teach or correct the teina who at first is required only to listen. In time the teina will begin to understand and reproduce the language used by the tuakana. For people with some knowledge of te reo Māori, the tuakana-teina project will re-enforce and extend what they already know.
This model of language transmission is used within Te Kōhanga Reo (Māori language preschools), Te Ātaarangi (an oral based method of Māori language teaching) and Wānanga Reo (advanced immersion courses). The tuakana-teina project aims to build on the work of those initiatives, by taking the idea out of the classroom and into everyday life. This will address two of the key issues of Māori language revival; the need to increase the number of people actually speaking Māori, and the need to increase the domains of Māori language use. All that is required is the time and commitment of the tuakana and the teina, and a willingness to work together.
The first step is to find a suitable tuakana or teina to undertake the project with, then reach an agreement and commit to it. The second step addresses the development of the tuakana-teina relationship, and suggests some simple activities where the use of the Māori language could be encouraged. We also identify some of the common stumbling blocks in the process, and suggest ways in which you can overcome these. The third step identifies some more advanced activities to extend both tuakana and teina, and suggests domains where you may like to implement the project. We illustrate these various steps by examining some successful role models, and the factors that contributed to the success. We have also included some hints about how to help smooth out progress.
At this stage, it is important to note that every tuakana-teina relationship will be unique. Each relationship will be affected by a number of variables, including; the fluency of the tuakana and the teina at the outset of the project, the time available to the tuakana and the teina, the learning habits of the teina, and the support of intimates.
Each tuakana and teina who participates can do so in the knowledge that what they are doing will contribute to the revival and growth of the Māori language as a living language and as an ordinary means of communication.
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Finding a Tuakana or a Teina
Ideally, tuakana and teina will have ready access to one another and be able to spend a lot of time together; the more time spent together, the greater the chances of success for the project. Most importantly you must both be willing to work at the relationship.
You should look for a tuakana or teina that you;
i. already know,
ii. are able to spend a lot of time with,
iii. are willing to spend a lot of time with
iv. can trust,
v. are willing to share with,
vi. are willing to participate in the tuakana-teina project with,
vii. are able to talk with about problems
viii. are able to be patient with
It would not be possible to undertake the project with someone that you did not want to spend time with, or that you could not trust. A willing, informed participant is necessary for the project to succeed and you must be able to discuss any problems that may arise.
Look for a tuakana or teina within your own extended whānau. If you have no success, you could cast a wider net, and approach people in the local community. You may wish to approach your local Iwi Authority, Iwi Radio station, Kōhanga Reo whānau, or Kura Kaupapa Māori whānau. Not everyone will be familiar with the project so be prepared to explain how it works.
Once you have identified a potential tuakana or teina, approach them and talk about the project and what you aim to achieve. You may not receive automatic acceptance. Be ready to answer questions about the project, and why you want to use te reo Māori. You should talk in detail about what it will mean for you and the other person, in terms of time and commitment.
Please remember; you are NOT looking for a tutor or a pupil. You are looking for a friend that you want to spend time with, and speak Māori with. It is also worthwhile remembering that there is no need to limit yourself to only one tuakana or one teina. You can work on the project with as many people as you feel comfortable. In fact, you could even be a teina in one relationship, and a tuakana in another.
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Developing the tuakana-teina relationship
The first part of a successful tuakana-teina relationship is to make a commitment to the overall project, and to one another. Both parties must agree that they want to speak Māori to one another. This agreement can be written or verbal, and it may vary in the degree of formality, it is really up to you.
The next stage is for both tuakana and teina to negotiate when and where they speak Māori to one another. This will depend to some extent on the previous relationship between the two parties, and on their Māori language ability. Some tuakana and teina may be able to have sophisticated conversations from day one, in all settings. However, it is likely that most tuakana and teina will have to begin at a more basic level. We recommend that tuakana and teina initially identify tightly focused Māori language domains (e.g. situations or places); perhaps you could begin by setting aside two days a week, and/or three particular domains when only Māori is spoken.
The third stage is to develop a list of common vocabulary and phrases that relate to the domains that you choose, and make sure that you are both familiar with them. This will help with your initial conversations. The number and complexity of vocabulary items and phrases will vary markedly from person to person. We recommend you start small and expand at your own pace. In time, you will have an increased vocabularly and be able to have more sophisticated conversations in a variety of domains where you and your tuakana or teina speak Māori.
The fourth and most challenging stage is to actually begin - to start speaking Māori to your tuakana or teina on the days you set, or in the domains that you have identified. This will be a challenge, especially if you are not used to speaking Māori. Both tuakana and teina must "take the plunge"; there is no other way around it. We know there are a number of stumbling blocks that you may have to face; so we have made some creative suggestions about how to overcome them. Build some flexibility into your tuakana-teina relationship, so that you can cope with any setbacks while still focusing on the overall goal and the positive progress that has been made. However, the key thing is to take the initial plunge and speak Māori.
The final stage in the development of your tuakana-teina relationship is the celebration. It is important for you both to recognise the progress that you have made and celebrate - by going to a movie, or going out for dinner. This is also a good opportunity to objectively review the progress that you have made to date, and to iron out any difficulties that either of you have noticed. It would be useful to review your tuakana-teina relationship after the first month. Don't be discouraged is progress seems slow in the first few weeks. You should allow plenty of time for your Māori speaking relationship to develop.
Participation in the tuakana-teina project does not preclude you from attending more formal Māori language lessons. You may decide that formal grammar lessons may enhance your tuakana-teina relationship. (As an aside, you may find in your tuakana-teina relationship that you recall a lot of the Māori vocabulary and grammar that you learnt as a child or in formal study. Overseas studies show that the loss of language skills isn't as great as previously thought, and that it is often quite easy to 'reactivate' these skills.)
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Common hurdles and how to overcome them
Often the greatest hurdle for the teina is the fear of failure; of speaking Māori and making a mistake. Whakamā is a powerful emotion. This is a common human reaction when people are anxious to acquire a skill, there is often a temptation to either give up after a few initial mistakes, or not to try at all.
There is no easy solution to this problem and the tuakana is not there to correct the teina. The role of the tuakana is to provide good-quality examples of Māori language use in everyday settings to expose the teina to the patterns, structures and vocabulary of te reo Māori. So, once you have both taken the initial plunge, let the teina make mistakes. Correction of frequent mistakes can occur a little later, when the teina is more confident. It is possible, too, that the teina will self-correct based on the exemplars provided by the tuakana (in some cases, the teina may eventually begin to correct the tuakana!).
Another common hurdle is the attitude of other people, both intimates and strangers. If you live with other people, you may find that some of them are negative about the tuakana-teina project. If possible, you should try and talk to them about the project, without preaching. Explain what you are trying to achieve, and why you are trying to achieve it. You will find some interesting information about the Māori language and why it is important at your local library or visit other pages of our website www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz, you may like to recommend this site to your friends. If, after explanation, the people you live with are still not supportive you may have to implement the tuakana-teina project in settings away from those people. You may also encounter negative attitudes from other people - strangers that may witness your tuakana-teina relationship at work in the supermarket or on the bus. New Zealand is a very mono-lingual country and some may be startled to hear you speaking Māori. Many people will stare, and some may even pass comment. This can be intimidating, but it is important to persevere. The best advice, perhaps, is to stare back! Eventually, people will become accustomed to hearing you and others speak Māori.
Another potential stumbling block is laziness. In some cases, you may come home after a long day at work, or school, and feel as if you don't have the energy to speak Māori to your tuakana or teina. At such times, it is much easier to speak English. This is when you should remember your negotiated agreement; you have agreed to speak Māori to another person at certain times and/or in certain domains. This is an important commitment that involves the time and goodwill of that person, and you should respect that commitment.
Frustration at a lack of progress may also cause concern at some stage. Remember, it will take time for the teina to master some of the phrases, sentence structures and vocabulary used by the tuakana. Both parties should be aware of this at the outset, and be prepared to be patient. It is useful, too, to regularly review progress and to assess just how much has been achieved. Lack of vocabulary may also cause a few difficulties. When the situation arises that you do not know the appropriate Māori word, we suggest that you use the English word instead (and make a point of learning what the Māori word is if your tuakana does not know it either), in order to communicate effectively. However, this should not become an occasion to lapse back into English!
It is sometimes difficult to find time to spend with your tuakana/teina if they don't live in the same house as you. You may both be busy people, with a range of commitments to work, school, sports or family. However, if you are motivated and willing to plan ahead, its almost always possible to find time for speaking Māori.
Here are two suggestions adopted from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Language in Canada:
Where possible, take advantage of your travelling time (for example, between home and work). You could perhaps arrange a car pool with your tuakana or teina, or you could agree to catch the same bus;
Make a regular date with your tuakana or teina, and build it into your usual routine. You should try and set aside some time regularly for your and your tuakana/teina to have fun together (while using te reo Māori), doing something you both enjoy.
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Some more advanced activities
Once your tuakana-teina relationship has become established, you may want to extend yourself by undertaking some more advanced activities. The most obvious way to extend yourself and your tuakana or teina is to take the relationship into new domains. If you are confident in the use of Māori in the house and the supermarket, you could try using Māori elsewhere with your tuakana or teina; at a netball game, in the rugby clubrooms, at a clothes shop, a take-away or restaurant.
You may also wish to extend your tuakana-teina relationship by topic. You and your tuakana or teina could discuss a variety of things in Māori, in your existing Māori language domains, other than your normal topics of conversation. You could discuss what happened at work during the day, who will form the next government, or whether the All Blacks will win their next game. In taking your relationship into new domains or new topics, you will need to do some homework and develop new word lists.
If you have a successful tuakana-teina relationship, you may wish to extend this and invite more (willing) participants into the project. The factors already outlined will apply to any new participants in the tuakana-teina relationship. New participants will bring a new dimension, based on their own fluency levels. Fluent speakers of Māori will re-enforce the role of the tuakana, and extend their use of Māori. It will also extend the range of quality Māori language exemplars available to the teina. If the new participant does not know any Māori, they will become a teina for the teina. This will extend and challenge teina (1), as they will have to act as a tuakana for teina (2) on a continuum of fluency. There will, of course, be a range of fluency between these two extremes, and people will fit into tuakana-teina relationships at varying places.
You may also wish to start writing letters or emailing in Māori to other people as a way to extend your use of Māori. This will add a new dimension to the tuakana-teina project; you could develop a postal or email tuakana-teina relationship. Letter writing in Māori is a challenging task, as it involves putting your thoughts onto paper in an organised manner, in order to communicate information. Emailing can be less formal. If you can find someone to correspond with, you will find that this can be a stimulating and challenging way in which to extend your use of Māori.
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Some useful guidelines
Set the framework of your tuakana-teina relationship before you start
Take a minimalist approach at the outset, start small
Learn some basic phrases and vocabulary before commencing
Ask for help or time out, if needed
Keep a running record of useful phrases and vocabulary
Don't let other people divert you from your goal
Review developments, and celebrate progress
The tuakana is not a tutor, and the teina is not a pupil
The teina will develop their Māori language ability by spending time with the tuakana Listening to high quality Māori exemplars as often as possible is very important
By speaking Māori you are helping revitalise the Māori language as a living language.
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The tuakana-teina project in action; successful examples
1. Rhys and Hēni
Tuakana-Teina; hei tauira
He whakaatu tēnei i tētahi tauira o te mahinga ngātahitanga o te 'tuakana' me te 'teina' i runga i te kaupapa o te reo Māori. E tama, ko ahau tonu tērā, māua ko taku pūehu kuia. I roto i ā māua mahi, ko au te 'tuakana', ko ia te 'teina' (engari katoa ētahi atu āhua o tā māua noho tahi, ko ia te rangatira!); ko tāku mahi, he kōrero Māori ki taku hoa i ngā wā katoa, ko tāna he whakarongo, he whai i āku tauira reo.
Nā, i te wā i tūtaki ahau ki taku pūehu kuia, kāore ia i mōhio ki te kōrero Māori, ahakoa tāna whaiwhai i te reo ki te kura tuarua. Ko tāna i mau ai i te kura, ko ētahi kupu ruarua nei me ētahi rerenga māmā noa iho. Me tōna whakamā anō mōna i kore ai i mau te reo i te kura. Heoi, i taua wā i āhua mōhio ahau ki te kōrero i te reo Māori.
Ka roa māua e noho tahi ana, ka tupu te hiahia o taku hoa ki te whai anō i te reo o ōna tīpuna. Kātahi ia ka whakauru atu ki tētahi karaehe i te whare wānanga o Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, me tāna tono mai ki ahau kia āwhina i a ia. Nā, i taua wā i noho māua ki Te Motukairangi, kei waho atu o Pōneke, engari i mahi māua i te tāone. Heoi, ia ata ka haere māua ki te mahi mā runga pahi me te hoki anō ki te kāinga i ngā ahiahi mā runga anō i te pahi. Ko tā māua mahi i a māua e noho ana i te pahi, he whakaakoako i ētahi kupu hou mō te karaehe reo o taku hoa i te whare wānanga. Ko tāku, he taki pātai ki tāku hoa mō ngā kupu me ngā whakamārama, ko tāna he whakahoki i āku pātai. He wā anō i kino ai te whākanakana mai a ētahi i tō rātau rongo i tētahi tokorua e (āhua) kōrero Māori. Ko tā māua i whakaaro ai, hei aha mā rātau.
Ka roa, ka mau i tāku hoa ngā āhuatanga o te hanga rerenga ki te reo Māori i tāna karaehe i te whare wānanga. Heoi, ka taki kōrero māua ki te reo Māori mō ētahi kaupapa (kaua mō ngā kupu hou noa iho) i te pahi, i te kāinga, i te toa hoko kai, i te motokā, i whea noa atu.
Ka roa māua e penei ana, ka pakari ake te reo o taku hoa, me tōku reo anō; he noho nōku ki te wānanga i ngā pātai a taku hoa, me te rite tonu hoki o tāku ake kōrero i te reo. I te mutunga o te tau whare wānanga, ka puta rawa te ihu o taku hoa i te whakamātautau mō tana karaehe reo Māori. E āhua toru tau māua e whai ana i tēnei āhuatanga, ki waenganui i a māua anō. Ahakoa te ohorere o te tangata, ahakoa te whākanakana mai, i ū tonu māua ki tā māua kaupapa me te aha anō i pakari haere te reo o tētahi me tētahi. I ēnei tau nei, ka taki whai māua i ngā mōteatea me ngā waiata-ā-ringa o te iwi. Koinei tā māua mahi i a māua e taraiwa ana i tō māua motoka. I whai tonu taku hoa i ngā karaehe reo Māori i ēnei tau, ā ko taku hoa i whakawhiwhia ki te tohu tino pai i te karaehe ia tau.
Ko tētahi o ā māua mahi i ēnei tau, he whaina i a māua anō mō te kōrero Pākehā. He rua tekau heneti te utu mō te kupu Pākehā kotahi - i te tuatahi, i kī te pēke poaka i te wā poto noa iho; hei te roanga atu, he uaua te kite i tētahi kapa kotahi i tā māua pēke poaka.
I tētahi tau, i noho mai te iramutu o taku hoa ki tō māua. I āhua 19 tau te pakeke o tēnei, ā, kāore i mōhio ki tētahi kupu Māori kotahi. Ahakoa Māori, i hē noa iho tāna whakahua i te kupu Māori. Kātahi ka noho ki tō māua, ka rongo i a māua e kōrero Māori ana ki a māua anō. Ka tupu ake te hiahia o te tamaiti ki te whai i te reo, ka uru atu ki ā māua mahi mō te reo Māori. I te tuatahi, i uaua mōna i kore ai i mōhio ki ētahi kupu - heoi, i rite tonu tā māua whiu i a ia mōna i kōrero Pākehā, engari kāore i whainahia ki te 20 heneti. Ko tā māua kē, he whakamahi i a ia ki te mahi i te kapu tī mō māua. Ka roa mātau e penei ana, ka pakari ake te reo o te tamaiti, ka timata ki te taki whiu i a māua mō māua i kōrero Pākehā ai ki a ia. Hei te roanga atu ko ahau kē te mea i kaha te whaina!
Ka mutu, kei te kitea i konei te wairua o tēnei kōrero. Ka pakari ake te reo Māori o tētahi, mehemea ka noho ki te taha o tētahi (ētahi rānei) e mōhio ana ki te reo, me te taki kōrero anō. Kāore he huarahi i tua atu i tēnei mō te whakaako i te tangata ki tētahi reo.
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