Māori speech therapist walks the talk

The first 1000 days of life are a key part of a child's development. No one understands this more than Māori speech therapist Hana Tuwhare - who helps to develop communication with pēpi.

She's part of a whānau-led approach encouraging pēpi not only to korero but to develop early learning skills.

As the granddaughter of renowned Ngāpuhi poet Hone Tuwhare, Hana knows the legacy language can create.

She is following in his footsteps, using oral language to inspire a new generation. She's a speech therapist helping pēpi up to the age of three to develop communication skills.

Hana says traditionally Māori placed a strong emphasis on developing oral skills for pēpi. This would be often done through singing waiata called Oriori.

"Our tupuna have always known that our pēpi were capable of quite rich and dense learning from such a young age."

Hana works closely with her colleague Tampy Berand and his son Hawaiiki Soul through the program Talking Matters.

Tampy and Hawaiiki.
Tampy and Hawaiiki. Photo credit: The Hui

Tampy and his wife Te Waka Huia Bernard say the program is transforming their whanau.

He's been catalyst for our family to start really revitalising Te Reo on my wife's side and myself to speak more Samoan to him."

Tampy Bernard will share what he's learnt with other whānau in his new role alongside Hana. He is seeing the impacts poor speech development is having on children.

"At the moment you have children starting at five going to school, who can't can't string a sentence. It's a sad truth. They can't ask to go to the toilet. They can't communicate with other kids, and that's pretty tough."

Te Waka Huia Bernard is seeing the benefits of encouraging Hawaiiki Soul to korero and use his voice.

And she's excited to see him carry on the oral traditions of his tupuna. 

"To be able to stand up on the marae and deliver a whai korero with ease - that's my goal.

"I just want him to be confident and educated - just hold his own and be able to tell stories, share stories."

The Hui

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