This story is part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Check out the rest of the stories here

Tayla Hartemink (Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahu) is an artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Re: commissioned the 21-year-old student to create an illustration for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2022. 

Re: News Editor Mandy Te had a chat to Tayla about her art, and what Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and te reo Māori mean to her. 

Tell me about the designs you created for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

I do a lot of my art based off mātauranga Māori. I sit and learn and wānanga a lot with my kaumātua. 

There’s a kōrero about how te reo is connected to birds and that’s why I included the birds - they’re all chiefly birds. 

Te reo Māori is said to have come from our manu (birds) and it is the language of birds. Birds are very sacred and this relationship shows how indigenous language is also connected to the environment, animals and native species. 

The tāniko/tukutuku patterns in the background represent Tāne ascending to the heavens to get te kete o te wānanga - this aspect of my design speaks to the strength of learning.

The entire illustration speaks to the importance of learning as well as the connection te reo Māori has to our natural world. 

What does Te Wiki o te Reo Māori mean to you? 

It signifies a time when our kaumātua fought for our language. 

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is a time for us to celebrate the revitalisation of our language and the efforts of our older generations to retain the language. 

It’s about resilience, strength, pride - all that cool stuff.

How will you be celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori? 

I’m getting involved in a lot of celebrations at Te Hui Ahurei Reo Māori o Te Whanganui-a-Tara. I’ll be helping out and doing some mahi. 

I’ll probably take time to learn more and spend time with whānau.

Tell us about your te reo journey and what te reo Māori means to you. 

For me, te reo Māori was spoken in my house and I was immersed in te ao Māori - growing up around my marae and my culture. 

But growing up, te reo Māori was looked down upon and I never went into kura kaupapa because of those attitudes. 

Tayla Hartemink, 21, designed Re:’s illustration for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori this year. Photo: Maija Stephens/Supplied

It’s like a reclamation journey. I’m having to re-learn a lot but it’s an awesome, empowering thing to take back. 

Te reo is a beautiful language, it’s part of who we are as Māori and, personally, I found the more reo I’ve learnt, the more fulfilled I feel. It’s really fulfilling to keep on learning. 

Top Image: An illustration done by Tayla that was commissioned by Re: for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Drawing by Tayla Hartemink. 

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Nau mai ki Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2022

Welcome to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.