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Learning te reo Maori is a family affair for one Cromwell whanau.

Josh and Sarah Dunn are integrating te reo Maori into everyday life with their sons Te Ariki-Koha and Te Whiu Tamati, while learning the language themselves.

Mrs Dunn’s mother is Maori but she was never taught the language, leaving her unable to pass it on to her daughter, and there was little opportunity for Mrs Dunn to learn te reo growing up in Tarras.

Mr Dunn grew up in Northland, where speaking te reo was more common.

Both felt it was important to teach their children the language.

“It’s part of their heritage so we’d like them to know it and to know their culture who they are,” Mr Dunn said.

While the couple had not started out as confident speakers, they started small, incorporating single words into everyday conversations with the children, learning for themselves as they went along.

“We started first learning single words [water], then began bringing them together with other words,” Mrs Dunn said.

The couple placed te reo translations on items around the house to aid them as they taught their children to talk.

The boys are learning both te reo Maori and English.

Mrs Dunn then joined an online te reo course and used phone app Te Aka to help improve her understanding of the language and sentence structure.

She encouraged anyone who wanted to learn te reo but might be hesitant to start small and give it a go.

“Don’t be shy at practising, even if your pronunciation is bad, don’t let that put you off,” she said.

Mr Dunn agreed.

“I think the biggest barrier for people is the embarrassment of pronouncing it wrong,” he said.

Te Wiki o te Reo Maori runs from September 13 to 19.

To mark the week, The News has changed our banner to read “Kei te pu o to Hapori” community”.