Bella Takiari-Brame

Iwi: Ngāti Maniapoto

Qualifications: NZ Chartered Accountant, Associate member of Association of Corporate Treasurers UK, Masters in Management Studies with Distinction, Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting and Finance, Bachelor of Management Studies, Studying towards a Diploma in Te Reo Māori

Ngāti Maniapoto tōku iwi me Ngāti Te Waha rāua ko Ngāti Rōra ōku hapū.

My husband and I and our 3 tamariki (under 5) braved the 24 hours non-stop flight from London early this year after 8 years away. It had taken us almost 3 years of planning to finally get home including deciding to take this year off to do Te Reo Māori. For me having studied the reo since 3rd form at school up until my final year in my Bachelors degree in the early 90’s, this year was about refreshing my knowledge and regaining the confidence to kōrero after being away for so long with the main goal of teaching our children to speak Māori at home.

We chose to do the Te Tohu Paetahi programme because of its reputation amongst our peers along with being "slightly" biased having done all my tertiary education at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato. As one of many in our class that had "been there and done that" in terms of already having a good foundation of Te Reo Māori, it shocked me early on to realise I had a lot of gaps in my understanding of constructions and going back to basics did me wonders.

In one of my last kōrero-a-waha (oral presentations in Māori) I explained how when I started this year where my potiki (youngest child) was my piripoho (baby still being breastfed), and now he is my whaipīhau (following me around like a bad smell). This is my analogy I attach to describing my learning of Te Reo. Hopefully soon I will be running in speaking Māori when he starts to run physically.

I know I can watch Te Kaea or Te Karere without English subtitles, and my latest achievement was to hold a 20 minute converstation in Te Reo with a Senior Māori MP during a conference in Wellington.

The key challenge for me with such young children is when they were sick I was unable to attend class, so at times I was constantly having to catch up as everyday alot of content was covered. My lecturers Matua Ēnoka Murphy and Whaea Sophie Nock had very different, distinct teaching styles but really complemented each other and just made our learning experiences ever richer. My fellow classmates from Ngā hau e whā and all different experiences and levels of Te Reo gave us a wider whānau to share the load, when at times it was difficult. At the same time alot of laughs were had when times were lighter, and most of all we learnt from each other.

Finally having spent the last 8 years in London working as an Accountant for one of the largest companies in the world, returning home and choosing to do the TTP programme was the best decision my husband Lui and I could have done for us, and for our children. All I say you only live once; no regrets. Just do it!

What does the future hold for me? Who knows? But the dream is to go back to my own iwi with my international business experience and knowledge, and start to pay my debt I owe to them for their support for my education. Having my reo will just make my journey home easier.