'Cafe Reo' offers chance to brush up on Maori

Humanities academics Greg Dawes (left) and Jacob Edmonds with Wendy Dunn at a weekly pop-up cafe designed to give people an opportunity to practise their te reo skills. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Humanities academics Greg Dawes (left) and Jacob Edmonds with Wendy Dunn at a weekly pop-up cafe designed to give people an opportunity to practise their te reo skills. Photo: Gregor Richardson
This week might be Te Wiki o Te Reo - but every week is a chance to brush up on Maori language for a pair of humanities lecturers at the University of Otago.

About two months ago English lecturer Jacob Edmond and religious studies lecturer Greg Dawes started ''Cafe Reo'', which is designed to give University of Otago staff and students, and whoever else who wanted to drop in, an opportunity to have a coffee and converse in Maori.

Usually about four or five people turned up to the weekly session on a Wednesday morning.

All levels of ability were very welcome, Prof Dawes said.

The pair were both taking Maori language classes through Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

''We get very few opportunities to practise the language and we thought 'why not create one','' Prof Dawes said.

''Often we might talk about what we are doing with our work, or what we are teaching.''

The university is running special events for the week, including a Maori art exhibition for staff.

The competition organisers were asking for any written or visual piece encompassing the kaupapa: ''What does te reo Maori mean to you?''

A waiata group performance from the College of Education was also held yesterday afternoon.

At Otago Polytechnic a series of activities is also being held to promote Maori Language Week, including a free hot drink from the polytechnic's Eden Cafe for those who ordered in Maori.

A te reo quiz was held yesterday afternoon, and the polytechnic was also offering Maori pronunciation classes.

Every day, computer screens at the polytechnic will also show a different ''rerenga korero mo te ra'' or ''phrase of the day''.

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