Clay Drummond 327

Partnership with Wānanga helps grow te reo Māori at WOMAD

The partnership between WOMAD and New Zealand’s largest indigenous educational organisation grows and strengthens for the second year, with the three-day festival kicking off in New Plymouth this week.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa executive director of marketing and student services Hone Paul says they are partnering with WOMAD this year to introduce bilingual signage in key areas at the event. These include way-finding signage and the festival programme, which features both English and te reo Māori.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is also behind the popular Teach Me Te Reo page on the WOMAD app, that includes useful phrases and greetings and is a fun and safe way to engage with the language.

Last year was the first time Te Wānanga o Aotearoa had been part of WOMAD and TAFT chief executive Suzanne Porter says the growing relationship between the two organisations is providing valuable benefits.

“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa adds wonderful cultural elements to the festival,” she says.

“They help us to not only celebrate our indigenous culture, but also showcase it on a world stage. This is incredibly important, especially in the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages.”

The bilingual signage is just a small part of what Te Wānanga o Aotearoa offers during WOMAD 2019.

Last year more than 500 people took part in a virtual pōwhiri using Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. The fully immersive and realistic pōwhiri experience was developed by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and uses stereoscopic video and spatial audio techniques to ensure the immersive experience is as realistic as possible.

Due to its popularity, this year they will bring twice as many VR headsets to give more people the chance to try out this unique experience.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa will also increase the moko stencil stations, which proved popular with people of all ages in 2018, along with providing advice at the festival’s Te Paepae Village for those thinking about future study in te reo and other courses.

In the lead up to the event this week, Chief executive Te Ururoa Flavell will be leading the international artists onto the pōwhiri at Owae Marae in Waitara.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is also providing pre-wristbanding services at its Te Kuiti campus on Friday, March 15.

Close to 1000 people took advantage of the opportunity to get their wristbands in Te Kuiti last year, with many people appreciating the chance to avoid queues at the venue and enjoy a break from a long trip to New Plymouth.

Once again, ice blocks, fruit and water will be provided, along with toilet facilities for visitors.

Festival goers wanting to take advantage of pre-wristbanding on their way to New Plymouth can visit the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Te Kuiti campus at 37 Taupiri Street from 9am to 6pm this Friday.

PHOTO CAPTION: Te Wānanga o Aotearoa have created a number of cultural initiatives for WOMAD NZ, including the popular moko stencil stations. CREDIT: Clay Drummond