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Hawaii exchange new ground for EIT te reo students

Tairawhiti students learning Te Reo Maori are swapping Gisborne for Hawaii, in a first for the Eastern Institute of Technology.

In April, a group of 24 EIT Tairawhiti Te Whatukura tauira (students) and kaiako (teachers) will set off on a cultural exchange to the islands of Hawaii — a first for them all.

It is also the first time EIT Te Whatukura have offered an overseas cultural trip.

But it is not a first for Te Whatukura tutor Jojo Rangihaeata, who has had the experience of taking groups to Japan and Hawaii in her previous work.

“This is not foreign ground to me so I thought I would give the opportunity to these EIT students. It will be an experience of a lifetime to be able to share their language and culture with our Hawaiian relatives.”

She says the purpose is to expose tauira to other forms of indigenous learnings through language acquisition and cultural enhancement.

She said they would see the similarities to the Maori language and culture with the Hawaiian people.

“We will visit educational institutes such as immersion schools, charter schools, University of Hawaii, Community Colleges, cultural events to share our language and culture.

“The students will come away with rich fulfilment of the diverse ways in how indigenous languages are being recognised within the Pacific,” said Jojo.

As well as personal contributions, the tauira are fundraising to cover the costs of the trip.

This year's Te Reo Maori courses at EIT Tairawhiti offer Te Reo Maori level two to level four and as part of learning the language, tauira learn waiata (songs), pohiri (welcome ceremony ritual), korero tuku iho (myths and legends), whakatauki (proverbs) and kiwaha (colloquialism).

One difference of the EIT Te Reo Maori programmes is that the Tairawhiti dialect is taught, and includes waiata of the district.

To find out more information about courses at either Ruatoria or in Gisborne, go to EIT Tairawhiti website or call in to the main office in Palmerston Road.

OPPORTUNITY: Jojo Rangihaeata Te Whatukura (EIT Maori studies) tutor will lead a cultural exchange to Hawaii. Picture supplied