At the age of 17, and with whānau support, Jeremy Tātere MacLeod left his home comforts of Brisbane, Australia to live with his grandmother in Hastings, New Zealand. He was fervent in his resolve to learn who he was. He developed a love of the Māori language, the Māori culture, whakapapa and his whānau. Now at the age of 31 his core values haven’t changed but his life has been upsized and upscaled. He has successfully cut out his own pathway and is viewed by Māori language exponents as an expert in his field.
On 24 November 2017, in the Amokura Lounge at Te Papa Tongarewa (The Museum of New Zealand), movers and shakers within Māoridom congregated to celebrate the efforts of individuals, groups and organisations committed to te reo Māori. The event was the 14th Ngā Tohu Reo Māori, the annual National Māori Language Awards convened by the Māori Language Commission. Presiding at the star-studded event were linguists and masters of ceremonies Stacey Morrison and Matai Smith; Ministers Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare and Nanaia Mahuta as awards presenters; Maisey Rika, Troy Kingi and the Māori Quartet providing the entertainment; and Senior Officials from across Government.
Te reo Māori was at the forefront, the very reason the evening exists. Kupu hou were projected on to walls and periodically updated throughout the evening. The kupu presented learning opportunities, a chance to extend your personal vocabulary. Menus, programmes and feedback cards were printed in both Māori and English. For the less fluent such as me, translation devices and earphones enabled individuals’ access to live Māori to English translation services. Goodies bags packed with te reo Māori resources were supplied to guests on exit. Photographers and media personnel were at the ready to capture all aspects of the event.
Jeremy was nominated in the Te Toa Reo Māori – Takitahi category which celebrates the individual’s contribution. As the finalists of each category were announced we talked of how we might uplift and support Jeremy should he win his category. Jeremy requested that there be no fuss. His response was simply ‘kāo, me hūmārie tātau’. He won his category and quietly walked up to the stage to receive his accolade. In Jeremy’s acceptance speech, he humbly acknowledged numerous people, each of whom had helped him launch, live and love te reo Māori. Amongst his acknowledgements were previous and current employers, but most importantly his Mum, Ruma MacLeod (nee McDonald) who was unable to attend and his Dad, the late Kenneth MacLeod. He also thanked his darling Te Rina (Wainohu) MacLeod, who in his words had not only married him but the Māori world.
The pinnacle of the evening was the announcement of the Supreme Award – Te Tohu Huia Te Reo. This award is selected from the winners of each category. To resounding applause, Jeremy was pronounced the Supreme Award winner. This time, and without flinching, Jeremy invited Ngāti Kahungunu to accompany him on stage. Within moments of a single strum of his guitar, anyone who was Ngāti Kahungunu joined Jeremy in belting out their anthem ‘Kōtiro Māori’. ‘Mā Ngāti Kahungunu tēnei’ were the words he uttered before exiting the stage. Whilst his words were few, it was yet again a humble acknowledgement but this time to a people who have backed his journey that began in an apple pack house in the Hawkes Bay.
Jeremy has been labelled as an ‘exemplar of acquisition’ and amongst his many achievements, Jeremy’s contributions to te reo Māori is reflected in his appointment as the Te Tairāwhiti representative on Te Mātāwai – the entity designed to administer the Māori Language Commission, Māori Radio and Māori Television. He is employed with Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated as a Director where he provides cultural advice and te reo expertise. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau and recently co-facilitated our iwi strategy hui for language and culture; as well as Kura Whakarauora held at Omaka Marae in Blenheim. Jeremy’s desire to ensure te reo Māori thrives is reflected in his efforts to set up a second Kōhanga Reo and in his PhD research. His biggest successes are his marriage to his beautiful wife Te Rina who is the mother to their boys Te Uaki and Te Maurutanga. Te Maurutanga is his testament of a native te reo Māori speaker, unlike himself who is a second language learner.
Me whakanui i tēnei toa i waenganui i te whānau, i ngā hapū me te iwi o Rangitāne.
Ekea te tāpuhipuhi o te Tapuae o Uenuku.
#2 Tuiti MacDonald & Karaitiana McGregor > Tutepourangi Adam McDonald & Materoa Jane Kershaw > Tātere McDonald & Ruma Watson > Ruma McDonald & Kenneth MacLeod > Jeremy Tātere MacLeod
Photos courtesy of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori