Dunedin Master Franchisee Tony Kramers proud to be learning te reo Māori

Dunedin Regional Master Franchisee Tony Kramers.

Tony Kramers has gone back to school, to reconnect with his past.

The Dunedin Master Franchisee, who can trace his whakapapa (genealogy) back to Ngāi Tahu chiefs Karetai and Te Mātenga Taiaroa, is learning te reo Māori, picking up where he left off more than 20 years ago.

“I learnt it through high school, right up to Year 13 via correspondence, and then I stopped. Like any language, when you stop speaking it you tend to lose the ability,” he says.

“I’ve always wanted to pick it back up again and now that my boys are growing up I wanted to give them the ability to understand their native language and be able to korero with me. It’s part of their heritage, where they whakapapa back to, which I believe is really important.”

Tony is also integrating teo reo Māori into his business practices, having changed the language settings on the Microsoft programs he uses to re reo Māori, and using Māori greetings and sign-offs on his emails.

“I’ve gone full immersion with Microsoft and it’s been a bit of a steep learning curve! I’ve had to jump on the Māori dictionary a few times to see what things mean, but I’ve learnt heaps and I’ve got used to it now.

“I see it as part of my professional development as well. Learning a new language helps create new pathways in the brain, which gives you the ability to take on new information.”

Tony grew up on the Otago Peninsula, with his local marae being Ōtākou, one of the places where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840.

“My mum went to the marae school, but she didn’t learn te reo because it was frowned upon back then,” says Tony.

“I feel like I’m digging back into the roots of where I come from. It makes me feel proud being able to kōrero Māori far better than what I could before.”

He encouraged others to give it go — during Māori Language Week, and beyond.

“Keep an open mind. Pick up 10 words and try and use them in your every day, whether it’s in emails or general speak. Give it a try and get involved.”

Tony’s wife Nicky, who shares the Regional Master Franchisee role with him, and their two sons, Isaac, 16 and Lucas, 12, are very supportive of his te reo journey.

Isaac is also learning te reo Māori, which he has chosen as one of his NCEA subjects, while Lucas is involved in kapa haka.

“Seeing how far Tony has come already in a short amount of time is heart-warming. His dedication to the course and sponsoring a noho marae (overnight marae stay) next month at his marae goes to show how passionate and brave he is about learning te reo Māori and is something the kids and I are incredibly proud of,” says Nicky. 

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