I passed SC maths with 51%, and failed UE maths with 49%. In my 20s I decided to try again and did an intro paper through Massey Uni. I completed the first couple of chapters and thought I’d cracked it. Then it got hard – too hard – and eventually I realised my brain has a limit when it comes to maths. Same with physics, even though a good Schrodinger’s Cat t-shirt always makes me laugh. And then there’s Te Reo Maori…
I have tried learning on my own, tried learning with others, and tried a Wananga distance course. I’ve failed, failed and, you’ve guessed right, failed again. Sure my pronunciation’s not bad, I can Kia Ora and so on; heck, on a good day I can even introduce myself with my mountain and awa. But that is not fluency, it’s nothing like fluency. It’s rote learning to plaster over the gaps.
Does that matter? In today’s world do I have to keep trying? Or can I cut myself a break?
One of the two libraries I manage is in a town where 51% of the population is Maori and I think we provide a pretty good service if the foot traffic and use our service gets indicates anything. All the kids at the local schools know our staff by name, the teens lift an eyebrow at me as they wander past my desk and ask me “‘s’up?”, and the older Maori teens sometimes hang out with us to use the APNK computers after they finish night shift at the works, while their mothers are some of the most prolific readers we serve.
Recently I told people on my FaceBook page that I have accepted my bosses role (she retires in December) and got comments like congratulations Cath tu bloody meke, and I will miss your friendly attitude Cath, go well from Maori males in the community. I think Maori and Pakeha feel welcome and respected by me and my staff.
But here’s the thing; that doesn’t feel good enough. I have this constant nagging feeling that I am failing by not being proficient at Te Reo. That it indicates, I’m not sure how to express it, a lack of commitment to the Treaty maybe? I’d love your thoughts on this. Is it time to quit or is the language something I *have* to conquer?