- Mary-Therese Leathers
Reclaiming our Reo Pt.II
Kepa Winiata Kemp decided to return to studies after nearly 30 years to reclaim te reo Māori for himself and his whānau at Te Ūranga Waka. As an ex-prisoner, he has dedicated himself to empowering our Māori men who have also come through the system, by creating a safe environment for them to grow and have courageous conversations.
His reo journey has given him a broader understanding and appreciation for the mana tāne hold in te ao Māori, which he thinks many tāne Māori could benefit from doing for themselves. Mary-Therese Leathers interviews him to hear his story.
Nō hea koe? || Where are you from?
Titiro whakarunga ahau ki taku maunga ko Puketapu.
Ka heke whakararo ki ngā wai o aku tīpuna ki a Ngaruroro.
Ka hoki ahau ki taku marae ko Omahu.
Kei reira ko ōku hapū ko Ngāti Hinemanu me Ngāi Te Upokoiri.
Matakitaki ana ahau i te rohe o tōku iwi o Ngāti Kahungunu.
Nā te whanau ahau o Mita rāua ko Erena Kemp.
Ko Kepa Winiata Kemp tēnei.
My father is Irish. My mother is Māori. Her father is Ngāti Kahungunu and her
mother is Ngati Tuwharetoa. I was born and raised in Hastings. I had a catholic
education and spent many years growing up at Omahu marae.
Ināhea koe uru tuatahi ai ki Te Ūranga Waka? || What year did you first enrol at Te Ūranga Waka?
I was seventeen years old when I enrolled in 1993.
He aha i whakaohooho i a koe ki te ako anō i te reo Māori? || What inspired you to take the next step learning te reo Māori?
I had many people in my life who inspired me to enrol. My grandparents and Joe Tirito were my greatest inspiration. They were kind with their kōrero and as role models they were hardworking. I attended many tangi and other various hui with them. Their involvement at marae was right throughout my childhood.
He aha ngā kaupapa i kaha tautoko i a koe i muri i tō noho mauhere? || As an ex-prisoner, has there been a programme in Aotearoa you have found to be beneficial?
When I was deported back home I was so fortunate to be a member of many
groups. I managed to enrol with the Orawa marae cultural leadership
programme which is run out at Mihiroa marae in Pakipaki. This is a programme
which is run by Sarah Reo and Jason Fox.
I also had support from PARS Hawkes Bay (Prison Aid Facilitation Support)
which is run by Ruth Spicer. We now run a successful men's group and I have a
short term contract promoting the group, and looking for volunteers to
facilitate our groups. The men are all ex-prisoners and love coming each week.
He kaiwhakahaere rōpū tautoko koe ināianei mō te hunga tāne kua puta mai i ngā whare herehere, kōrero mai mō taua kaupapa. || You now run a successful men’s group for ex-prisoners, tell us more about the activities involved.
We provide a safe environment and the men keep to this agreement. We
communicate and learn from each other. We talk about specific topics that
provoke emotions and discuss them. For example; the culture among men is
that we struggle to talk about what we are struggling with, why is that?
Each session we discuss different topics.
He aha te take matua kia uru ngā tāne ki ēnei momo rōpū? || What is the main reason for men to join these groups?
Self development through communication. There is no requirement to join. It is
the responsibility of each person to have accountability for their attendance.
They then create responsibility for themselves. Every single man who has
attended continues to come back. They love it.
He aha i whakaohooho i a koe ki te hoki ki Te Ūranga Waka i te tau 2022, whakaoti ai i tō ako reo Māori? || What inspired you to re-enrol at Te Ūranga Waka in 2022, continuing your journey learning te reo Māori?
I love learning. I love learning all aspects of the Māori world. And my
motivation is to inspire my children to learn too.
He pai ngā mahi? || Are you enjoying it?
Sometimes it’s hard work. But yes, I love it. When you love doing something it’s
never really work.
He aha ētahi o ngā hua kua puta? || What lessons have been valuable along your journey?
Not to be afraid to make mistakes. Get up and give it all a go. All supporting
others on their journey.
He aha tētahi wero mōu? || What is a challenge you’ve faced?
Not enough time in a day. There is so much mahi to do. It’s a slow process
which requires a lot of work. I always tell myself that hard work pays off.
He kōrero akiaki tōu mō te hunga tāne e hiahia ana te ako i te reo? || Do you have a message for men out there seeking to learn te reo Māori?
I would like men to know that we hold a special place in the Māori world and
we need to learn as much as possible to support our women and children who
also have a special role. Be brave and learn for yourself especially.
He mihi nō te kaituhi || Acknowledgement from the author:
E tōku hoa, a Kepa, nāna i tuku iho tōna kōrero ki a tātou.
E tika ana me mihi matihere hoki ki te whānau o Omahu.
Ka arohanui ki a koutou i ō koutou mamae i te wā nei.
Tēnā koutou katoa.