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Whaea Valetta Matenga

Tōku reo, tōku oho oho
My language, my awakening


Whaea Valetta Matenga, as she is warmly known, is one of the first faces you see when coming to Level 2 of Whānau House. Upon entering reception at the Henderson whare, you’ll be greeted with a smile and a ‘Kia ora’

But it wasn’t always like that, as many of our elders were not allowed to speak the language of our tupuna/ancestors.

Valetta was brought up speaking English. Her kuia, kaumātua and parents all spoke Māori but did not encourage this for Valetta and her siblings.

“We lived in a Pakeha world, and Māori was not part of that world!” says Valetta. Valetta says she was confronted by a Pakeha colleague a few years ago about her “Māoriness”. “This Pakeha colleague knew more about Māori than I did, and I felt awful,” Valetta says.

So to rediscover part of her heritage, Valetta in 1990 enrolled in a Te Reo Māori beginner’s course at Manukau Technical Institute.


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