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10th September was a very special evening at the Wellington Buddhist Centre, as we launched our te reo Maori (Maori language) descriptor. The WBC Council had formally adopted the descriptor in July and we decided we’d launch it with a bit of a celebration during Maori language week.
“Maranga mai ki te Māramatanga”
A pithy translation - “Wake up and be enlightened”
A fuller version - “Rise up, aspire to enlightened wisdom and compassion”.
As part of our evening Dennis gave as all some tuition and practice in the correct pronunciation. We ended the evening with a song “Te Aroha”. meaning love/compassion
Dennis has been patiently correcting our errors as to where to put the macron, and Malcolm pointed out that when we get it wrong the phrase can easily be interpreted as “fly me to the moon”. Satyadevi has been capturing the emotional essence of things in her beautiful poetry.
So how did that happen! It was at a Council meeting in December 2017 when I suggested we explore a Maori name for the WBC. Somewhat naively I thought we’d have this sorted out by our January 2018 opening night! At that time Malcolm and Akashagarbha were willing to take on this project.
The reason I was interested in pursuing this is that although we are Triratna, a worldwide movement, the land beneath our feet is Aotearoa/NZ; we have three official languages, English, Maori and NZ Sign Language. I felt that acknowledging this in some way was important.
There have been 18 WBC Council meetings since that first mention, and it has been on the agenda for 14 of them!
It got off to a bit of a slow start but gathered momentum from August 2018, when the Te Reo Kula was formed; made up of Malcolm, Dennis, Satyadevi and with me as the point of contact for the movement.
In August 2018 following Satyadevi’s chance meeting; Malcolm, Dennis and Satyadevi met with Rangimoana Taylor, a Maori actor and theatre director who works at Te Papa as a “host” on the floor of the museum.
He says he sees himself as a bridge between people to get them to understand themselves, their country and their history. As an 18-year-old he found himself in Thailand and entered a Buddhist Monastery for about 6 months.
He came up with a phrase that seemed very apt.
Between January and April 2019, we worked out our process for informing the Order and local iwi. We realised that we had been looking at a te reo name for the WBC but the phrase we had was a description and could be used by any Centre in the country. We began involving Auckland and Thames Centres more fully. At a second meeting with Rangimoana in March, he suggested our next step was to meet with the Maori Language Commission.
The ABC let us know they were very interested and were taking our phrase as a starting point for their own exploration. We heard from Nagabodhi our current President, and Jnanadhara our next President, both were interested in and supportive of what we were doing.
In May and June 2019 Malcolm, Dennis and Satyadevi met with the Maori Language Commission and our proposed phrase was refined, we began thinking that Maori language week in September would be a possible launch date. We gave an update to the Order in Wellington, Auckland and Thames.
On 6th July 2019 the WBC Council formally adopted the te reo descriptor “Maranga mai ki te Māramatanga” and agreed to launch it on 10th September, during Maori language week.
We let the Order in Aotearoa/NZ know of this decision as well as all of the Wellington Sangha, we also informed local iwi, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Atiawa (Wellington), Taranaki Whānui.
Neither of our contacts at the Maori Language Commission were able to attend our celebration sending apologies saying “Please give my apologies and know that we of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori applaud the effort that the centre has made.”