Our People: Tug Master and Te Reo ally Greg Gallop

It’s Te Wiki o te Reo Māori/Māori Language Week! LPC is celebrating with a range of events our staff can attend in partnership with the other Christchurch City Holdings Limited (CCHL) companies. 

From learning about Mātauranga Māori, to writing their mihimihi or singing waiata, our team has plenty of opportunities to incorporate Te Reo into their lives. 

We also spoke to Te Reo ally and Tug Master Greg Gallop about why he learnt the language. 

When did you start learning Te Reo Māori and why?
Twenty-five years ago, when my kids were small. My wife has whakapapa to Pukepoto in the far north. We both started as we wanted to support the kids and wanted them to be connected to their culture. Talk is cheap, and actions speak – I think it’s important to model things. 

I learnt a lot through Te Ataarangi Trust. You can’t learn a language without being exposed to the culture, and I have been on many wananga with them, where we would do immersion for the whole weekend, and you only speak te reo. The only words you really need to know then are ae (yes), kao (no), and aua (don’t know). 

What is your favourite thing about the language?
It’s a doorway into another world that you don’t realise is there. There are heaps of gifts in every culture, and it’s important to learn from the treasure. It’s like the difference between sailing on top and diving in. It’s a culture that’s embedded in oratory storytelling, and it flows like the tide. New Zealand is the only place you can really speak and learn te reo. It is unique to us, and it’s important we don’t lose our language. 

What was the hardest thing to learn?
Letting go of my own embarrassment of getting things wrong. There is a lot of fear in learning something new, but you just have to try. People say that children are better at learning languages, but I think adults should be better as we have more learning skills. Adults are just more self-conscious. Children will try something, and if they get it wrong, they learn and move on. We are often not sure what is right, so we just won’t try. 

What advice would you have for anyone who wants to start?
Kaua e whakamā – don’t be shy. If a crusty old fisherman can learn, then anyone can. I always hated speeches and standing up in front of people, but now I can – just give it time. You will also always be a learner. I am not fluent, and the more you learn, the more you learn how much you don’t know. However, the world has come a long way recently; you see it with the pronunciation on the news. 

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