Geneva Hakaraia-Tino has a vision that all tāngata whaikaha Māori will be able to communicate in te reo – including those who are non-speaking.
Read this story in te reo Māori and English here. / Pānuitia tēnei i te reo Māori me te reo Pākehā ki konei.
She grew up surrounded by role models and a rich culture at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland, which she describes as a privilege.
But Hakaraia-Tino (Ngāpuhi and Te Aupōuri) understands the barriers that people who are non-speaking face when communicating in te reo.
She was born with cerebral palsy and has limited speech abilities; it was her parents’ dream for her to attend Māori-medium education but it wasn’t possible because of the limited services available for students who were non-speaking.
Geneva Hakaraia-Tino has cerebral palsy and limited speech abilities. She is developing a synthetic te reo voice.
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“I was basically written off by people,” she says. “It was bad enough I had a disability, but I am also non-speaking so, in the eyes of the very ablest society we live in, it was better if I was just put somewhere in the background and that was it.”
Not being able to communicate in a language that is so important to you can often leave a person in a place of silence and te ao pōuriuri (a world of darkness) as they cannot express their whakaaro (thoughts) or participate in te ao Māori, Hakaraia-Tino says.
But what people around her didn’t realise was that she was “soaking up everything” she was hearing, she says. “I loved the eloquence of te reo being spoken.”
Hakaraia-Tino understands the barriers that people who are non-speaking face when communicating in te reo.
Her desire to learn te reo is embedded in her being and, five years ago, she enrolled in a course at university to continue her reo …….