Archives For te reo maori

This week we’re celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori | Māori Language Week 2017. DOC’s Outreach and Education Coordinator, Ben Moorhouse tells us about his journey learning Te Reo and what it means to him and his role.

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An update from Director-General Lou Sanson on DOC’s latest island recruits, Predator Free 2050 and more.

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Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Leana Barriball, Kaiārahi Kaupapa Atawhai / Pou Whakahaere – Toi Moana (Strategic Cultural Advisor and Technical Workflow Coordinator) based in Wellington.

Leana sitting at her desk in Wellington.

At my desk in National Office

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

The fun parts include planning hui to build an action plan to incorporate mātauranga Māori into the work that DOC does; organising te reo classes and waiata sessions for staff in National Office; developing a project plan for cultural indicators in the marine space; making kaupapa Māori more visible. Sometimes I enjoy playing with numbers for business planning purposes and improving systems and processes.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Understanding and discussing values and aspirations from two different perspectives so that we can connect more people to the environment. Business planning helps to keep everyone on the same page and working towards common goals.

Standing on the beach on Heron Island.

Heron Island

The best bit about my job is:

Networking with everyone in DOC who bring their own skills, expertise and experiences with them to work. I love learning from others and thinking of ways that I can incorporate their skills into the work that I do. Fieldwork is limited but a favourite.

Standing in front of Matua Nhāhere tree.

Awhi atu ki a Matua Ngāhere

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

I have 13 brothers and sisters.

My stomping ground is:

None other than Wellington. Although I live in the ‘burbs, I spent most of my time on the mean streets of Wellington city.

Actually, they weren’t that mean, and I really spent most of my time with my whānau. Although I’m a city girl, our holidays were spent either in Nuhaka or Waitara, which really brought me back to my roots.

My best ever holiday was:

Going up to Northland for the first time with my family in a campervan. It was the first time any of us had gone past Auckland and it’s a completely different place.

Going all the way up to Te Rerenga Wairua was the moment I will never forget. I’m not a spiritual person but you just can’t avoid it up there—so peaceful.

Visiting Te Matua Ngahere and Tāne Mahuta was another amazing experience. It is unbelievable how long they have been standing—man the memories they must have!

And lastly having the opportunity to snorkel in two of the most awesomest marine reserves (Poor Knights and Goat Island) was just the cherry on the cake.

My greatest sporting moment was when:

Probably not the greatest, but the most memorable… Playing indoor netball a couple of years back, just a social game, but I was having the game of my life!! One minute to go in the last quarter I run and jump to get the ball and go for the 2 pointer, instead I am lying on the ground, knee blown, in pain and gutted. MRI’s indicate a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and torn MM medial meniscus. Oh well, one operation and a lot of training later and at least I can stand.

My secret indulgence is:

Chips, chips and more chips.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to:

Look after a bit of land on the skirts of the bush, right next to the beach and become a farm girl. Have a few animals, grow some fruit and veges and just chill.

Part of Leana's whanau touching a large greenstone.

Only a small bit of the whānau

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

Just do it…I know it’s not old but I think in this day and age we find so many excuses not to do something. I think if you can get past those excuses and have as many experiences as you can before your body or mind won’t let you, then…just do it.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

Don’t get so caught up on the little things. You could spend most of your time worrying about the little things and forget about the big things.

In work and life I am motivated by:

My family.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

You don’t need to go out and do something big for conservation. Just respect Papatūānuku and she will look after you.

Leana and a friend running along the beach on Ulva Island.

Running away from the tide at Ulva Island

Question of the week…

What Māori word describes you best and why?

Two words: Māori māmā. Because a mum has to be and do everything: Teacher, nurturer, taxi-driver, pay packet, retirement fund.  Māori because of the flavour I bring to being a mum!

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Joe Harawira, Kaihautu – Te Kotahitanga

Name: Mark Joseph Hohepa Harawira (Joe).

Position: Kaihautu – Te Kotahitanga/Manager Strategic Partnerships, National Office.

Joe Harawira before the tā moko.

Before the tā moko

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I support Treaty Settlements Unit, professional development (Te Pukenga Atawhai), help with Te Reo translations, waiata sessions, Tikanga Māori-Protocols for the department, storytelling, mentoring, international engagements, and keynote speaking….

What is the best part about your job?

I love meeting and sharing with staff whom attend our Te Pukenga Atawhai kaupapa. So many talented people.

Joe Harawira after the  tā moko.

After the tā moko

What is the hardest part about your job?

Ummmmmm….Saying NO!

What led you to your role in DOC?

24 years in Education. I was a teacher in Immersion Māori school in a past life, transitioning into Advisory-Māori role with the Hamilton Teachers’ College. It was time for a change. I have been with the department since 2000, firstly as a Kaupapa Atawhai Manager in the Waikato Conservancy, and now based out of National Office.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Te Pukenga Atawhai at Whakatu Marae in Nelson, and seeing the recent Pou Tairangahau appointees at work.

The rule of 3…

3 loves

My mokopuna.
My mokopuna.
My mokopuna.

3 pet peeves

Not being able to spend more time with my mokopuna.
Not being able to spend more time with my mokopuna.
Not being able to spend more time with my mokopuna.

3 foods

Kina paua oysters, (oh! The pain….gout for those not so afflicted), whitebait, koura….ooops…can’t count.

3 favourite places in New Zealand

Anywhere in Karas country, West Coast – South Island.
Moutohora – Whale Island.

Favourite movie, album, book

Movie: I like the Spaghetti Westerns.
Album: The Eagles, America, Doobie Brothers, and Luther Van Dross.
Book: All of the Wilbur Smith line.

Storytelling in Kakadu and the Outback.

Storytelling in Kakadu and the Outback

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

You needn’t have sculled those quart bottles of Waikato so quickly at varsity!

Who or what inspires you and why?

I’m inspired by humble people because they are peaceful warriors (duality at work here).

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A millionaire…. in all humility.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A millionaire…. in all humility.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Recycle your old ways of thinking and doing things in preparation for a very different future (not sure if that answers the question, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!).

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

A vege garden at home and eating more greens for lunch at work….mmmmm!

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

I would like to be a whale as both my parents have stories about the whale.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Kia kotahi mai ki te ao nei
Be as ONE with the Universe

Kia kotahi mai ki te whenua nei
Be as ONE with Mother Earth

Kia kotahi mai ki te wairere nei
Flow as ONE with the sacred waters

Kia kotahi mai ki te hauora
Breathe as ONE with the winds

Kia kotahi mai nga iwi katoa
Let us be as ONE in conservation

Patuki tahi nga Manawa e
Let our hearts beat as ONE in unison with Mother Earth

Kia ora,
Te Pūkenga Atawhai is a course run by DOC for the specific purpose of enlightening its staff about Māori, Māori issues, Māori culture/beliefs, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the proper (tika) ways in which to conduct yourself when you interact with tangata whenua – See in our line(s) of work, we deal with tangata whenua all the time.

The course is run by Pou Kura Taiao – Indigenous Conservation Ethics Managers, who among other roles are ‘cultural advisors’ that work for the Department. The Pou are all extremely nice blokes (There is one female Pou who I’m led to believe is the rose amongst the thorns) exuding all sorts of mana. The Pou know way more than a thing or two about their culture.

I’m venturing forth from my secluded house in the Wellington ‘burbs, to sleep on a marae with a bunch of anonymous snorers on Arapaoa Marae in Waikawa, and learn about the Treaty amongst other things. And what should I expect? I’m really not quite sure…


Te Pukenga Atawhai participants and Pou Kura Taiao.

Te Pukenga Atawhai participants and Pou Kura Taiao assembled outside Waikawa Marae. Photo: Jazz Scott

Like I say, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I was on a ferry with about 4 people I knew from the Wellington office I work from, and I was about to join about 35 other strangers for a week on the Marae in Waikawa, which is very close to Picton in the Marlborough Sounds.

So I joined around forty of my esteemed colleagues, who were from Wellington, Nelson/Marlborough, Motueka, Reefton, Aoraki/Mt Cook, the NZ Fire Service and elsewhere. We arrived at Waikawa and were brought onto the Marae with a traditional powhiri (welcome). I’d seen powhiri before on the tele and stuff, but I’d never actually experienced one, let alone participated in one… ‘What do I do now?’ I’m wondering, the whole way through… But luckily Te Pūkenga Atawhai is one of those places where ignorance (read: naivety) isn’t shunned, rather it’s welcomed, and then if need be it’s corrected for you in the nicest way possible.

Participants are welcomed onto the marae as we held our own powhiri and hui as a group.

Participants are welcomed onto the marae as we held our own powhiri and hui as a group. Photo: Anaru Luke

Te Pūkenga Atawhai comfortably takes people out of their comfort zones, and it’s a good thing. Each of us had the best part of a week to write our own mihi (greeting) completely in te reo māori. On the last day, each and every one of us got up in front of the whole group in the whare-nui, and delivered his or her mihi. The mihi was followed by a presentation of a taonga (treasure) by each person. Some people talked about their whanau at home, others spoke of their waka or another meaningful possession of theirs. Personally, I talked about my rhyme-book (I make Hip-Hop music) given to me by my Mother, and I thought that one of my conservation-themed verses would be appreciated by the group, so I performed a part of it after my mihi as my taonga. It has to be said that everyone did splendidly, with a task that certainly doesn’t come easily to non-speakers of te reo māori.

Ken Clarke joined us from the NZ Fire Service, here he participates in a role play activity involving the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ken Clarke joined us from the NZ Fire Service, here he participates in a role play activity involving the Treaty of Waitangi. Photo: Anaru Luke

When I went to the marae, I already possessed this disconnected vocabulary of te reo māori that I didn’t really know what to do with. I was like: “So when do I say ‘ka pai’?” or “Why do we always sing a waiata after someone has spoken?” or even just “Why do I have to take my shoes off at the whare-nui?” Well now I know about all of that, thanks to DOC and the Pou. I knew about some words, like tu meke, whare, ka pai etc, but now I actually feel comfortable integrating te reo māori into my everyday language. Good times.

Carving at the Marae front gate.

Carving at the Marae front gate. Photo: Sam O'Leary

Of course, I know some people who boo-hoo the idea, like: “Maan what a waste of money, I can’t believe DOC’s actually paying for you to stay on a marae with the Maa-reys for a week…way to spend our taxes bro!”

Te Pūkenga Atawhai though, is no holiday. We left with our brains bursting with both fresh and ancient information, and also with the knowledge that probably, we would  soon be putting this new information to use  in each of our roles. Since treaty settlements began, we’ve had more and more to do with Māori, and if you look across the Department, we probably interact on a near-daily basis. Most of our core business at DOC will involve Māori at some time, and Te Pūkenga Atawhai goes a long way towards the strong relationships we now enjoy with iwi right across Aotearoa.

A poupou depicting Kupe slaying the octopus he chased across the Pacific Ocean. This pillar is at Karaka Point, near Waikawa in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Sam O'Leary

A poupou depicting Kupe's struggle with the octopus he chased across the Pacific Ocean. This pillar is at Karaka Point, near Waikawa in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Sam O'Leary

Te Pūkenga Atawhai seems to me, to be a pretty unique thing. I don’t hear about many other employers sending their staff to learn about Māori culture and how to deal with and relate to tangata whenua, but I suppose there aren’t too many Government Departments and indeed businesses that work with Iwi as much as we do. If any of you out there have had some similar experiences either with DOC or with any other sort of organisation then let us know.  I’d be keen to hear about it, drop us a comment or any questions you’ve got.

Tou rourou, toku rourou, ka ora te Iwi.

(With your contribution and my contribution we will thrive.)

And cheers for reading 😀

The whare-nui through the entrance to the marae. Photo: Sam O'Leary

The whare-nui through the entrance to the marae. Photo: Sam O'Leary



One of the Pou Kura Taiao, Joe Harawira, jammin' in the whare-kai.

Pou Hapai Joe Harawira, jammin' in the whare-kai. Photo: Sam O'Leary