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,”
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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