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  • Writer's pictureSonny Ngatai

My long term, long distance, low commitment casual girlfriend: Te reo Māori

A mihi to everyone learning te reo Māori!

When I think about my reo Māori, I’m reminded of when Ken asks Barbie “Do you want to be my long-term, long distance low commitment casual girlfriend?“

I feel like that's me with te reo!

Don't get me wrong, my commitment to te reo is unwavering, 'till death do us part. However, there are times when I can't help but feel like I'm not being the devoted partner I should be, as if I'm letting te reo Māori down by improving at the...




I came across an interesting insight, “Learning a language should not be a race to fluency.” And I guess as a competitive person, and someone who has learnt te reo since kōhanga reo, I sometimes feel like I started the race ages ago, and I’m slowly falling into 3rd, or even 4th place!

But learning te reo isn't about winning a race; it's about nurturing a relationship. As my partner Kiri wisely puts it, "It's like a love story, and you flirt in and out with it." (Cue Taylor Swift 'Love Story')

“learning a language should not be a race to fluency.”

Dating and learning te reo can feel intimidating, but as Te Aorere puts it “Ehara i te mea me mātanga koe kia timata. Me timata kia mātanga ai.” Like many relationships you reo relationship won’t make you fluent overnight. You have to give it time to grow. The more reo Māori you use the stronger your relationship and confidence with it will become. 

“Ehara i te mea me mātanga koe kia timata. Me timata kia mātanga ai.” - Te Aorere Pewhairangi

So to all those learning te reo Māori, whether you're just starting with "Kia ora" or are already an active user, I hope you’re enjoying your reo Māori relationship. I hope you’re excited to learn new kupu, and that your reo has introduced you to a new community. I admit that I have reo anxiety, and this is normal, but my advice to you, dear reader, is "don’t get frustrated with yourself and your learning pace". Take things slow and have fun with it!

Kia kaha te reo Māori! 😊


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