Regional | Māori

The Language of Dance

Learn te reo Māori, through dance.

That’s the aim of a series of workshops that’s being run by movement artist and reo speaker, Mapihi Kelland (Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Syrian).

Mapihi has worked as a dancer and choreographer for the Black Grace Dance Company, Hawaiki Tū and the Taki Rua Theatre Company. She’s also been mentored and tutored by dance experts from the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, and Samoa.

Now she’s offering to teach those who want to learn Māori in a fun way with Te Reo Kanikani.

It’s a method Mapihi picked up as a student at He Kāinga Mō Te Reo in Rotorua, a full immersion reo course for adults.

“My tutors, Judy Kautai and Rukuwai Daniels were really creative, using whakaari (skits) to understand whakataukī (proverbs). It was one of the things I enjoyed and helped me retain what I was taught,” she said.

And she did it with her baby son in tow, Rehua Te Manawanui, who is now a year old.

So what can Te Reo Kanikani students expect?

“Expect to sweat!” she laughs. “But also feel comfortable and confident to learn a kīwaha (colloquial saying) or whakataukī and put dance to it—mā te reo o te tinana me te reo o te waha (using body language and speech).”

Mapihi is studying for a teacher’s diploma this year and hopes to combine dance and te reo Māori in the future as a kaiako at a kura kaupapa Māori, or at the place that inspired it all, He Kāinga Mō Te Reo.

Te Reo Kanikani workshops will be held at The Arts Village in Rotorua from January 11.