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He Kupu Tuku Iho - A book review


We are proud of the efforts to support both our Adjunct Professors, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Dr. Wharehuia Milroy, in producing this piece of work. He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te reo Māori te tatau ki te ao, is a collection of essays on a range of topics pertinent to the Māori world, including the quality of the Māori language, Māori performing arts, cultural concepts, Māori humour, and more.

The following is a book review by Dr Vincent Olsen-Reeder of Victoria University of Wellington, just weeks after the book sells out and is currently under a second print.



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Professor John C. Moorfield 1943 - 2018


Te tai rā, te tai rā
Te tai kārangaranga ki tua o Paerau, te tai pupuke i te roimata aroha.

Tēnei te hotu nei ki a koe kua ngaro. Moe mai rā i te moenga tē mamae, i te moenga hāneanea o te tangata whakapeto ngoi, o te rangatira whakaaro nui. Okioki atu rā, e Koro.

Today marks a month since the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Professor John C. Moorfield. In that time we have all grieved his loss and have had to come to terms with the void that he has left, both professionally and personally.

Te Ipukarea team members and John's proteges, Dr Rachael Ka'ai-Mahuta and Dr Dean Mahuta, were asked to pen the eulogy for the service in celebration of his life. The full transcript is included below:

 Kei te pā whakawairua, mōu i whakahono i te ira tangata ki te ira atua, tēnei ka mihi.

Kei te whānau pani o Te Tūāhoanga Matarehu o te Mātauranga, e mihi ana ki tō koutou whakaaro nui mai ki te ao Māori, te ao i aroha nuitia ai e tō koutou koroua, kia rere tahi ai ō tātou roimata i tēnei rangi, tēnā koutou.

Tae atu ki te minenga kua ōpeti mai i tēnei rā i runga i te karanga o Mate, tēnā tātou katoa.

Pāpā John, Te Murumāra, or Mū as he was affectionately known, has been our teacher, our mentor, our colleague, our friend, and our Pāpā. Dean has known him for the last 18 years, and Rachael has known him for most of her life, since she was a young girl at Kōhanga. We will be forever grateful to have had him in our lives and we are so glad that he got to meet our daughter, Māhealani.

Pāpā John had a great sense of humour and enjoyed a good story. One of the memories we will treasure is his laughter and joy, the last time we saw him, upon hearing an anecdote from our recent initiation into the world of parenting.

A kind man, Pāpā John went out of his way to mentor and help those around him. He was generous with his time. Pāpā John also had a strong sense of justice. He would not sit on the fence when important issues arose, he would speak up. We witnessed this a handful of times over the years and noticed that it would often catch others off guard, as Pāpā John was such an affable person.

Pāpā John spent much of his life immersed in the Māori world, in which he carried himself in a way that was neither boastful, nor presumptuous. He was humble and acutely aware of his position as an invited outsider. These characteristics are perhaps why so many of the cherished and respected leaders of the Māori world invested in him. Among them, Hoani Waititi, John Rangihau, Ngoi Pēwhairangi, Te Wharehuia Milroy and Tīmoti Kāretu.

Pāpā John had a passion for te reo Māori that was ignited by Hoani Waititi during his time as a student at St Stephen’s Māori boys boarding school. He was originally enrolled at Whanganui Collegiate but made the decision to stay closer to home - a decision that proved pivotal.

Another turning point came with a call from Pāpā Tīmoti Kāretu to join the ranks of the te reo Māori teaching staff at the University of Waikato in the mid-1970s, where he worked alongside the late John Rangihau and Hirini Melbourne, as well as his dear friends Tīmoti and Wharehuia. During his time at Waikato, Pāpā John was instrumental in the development of Te Tohu Paetahi, the first intensive Māori immersion undergraduate programme of its kind.

Frustrated with the lack of resources available for teaching te reo Māori to adult learners, Pāpā John began compiling and producing resources for his Māori language students, exemplifying the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention”.

It was his love for the language, along with a strong work ethic and a solid foundation in the pedagogy of second language acquisition, that led to the creation of the Te Whanake series, a comprehensive suite of text and digital resources for learning te reo Māori as a second language.

In the late 1990s, Pāpā John was awarded a Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Otago for his work on the Te Whanake series. It is a prestigious and rare qualification that is only awarded to individuals who have achieved special excellence in their original contributions to linguistic, literary, social, or historical knowledge. His life-long commitment and contribution to Māori language teaching and learning was once again recognised and celebrated when he was made a companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2010. 

In his final decade, he helped to establish Te Ipukarea, a research institute dedicated solely to te reo Māori, at AUT. Pāpā John invested in te reo, believing that it had given him so much in his life, and wanting to give back. It is a little known fact that he didn't take any of the royalties from his work, instead he established a fund for future te reo Māori projects. Pāpā John looked for opportunities to make his resources more accessible, utilising technology to reduce the cost for students. Where possible, his resources are free to access.

He worked tirelessly right up until the end. In his final weeks Pāpā John was still giving to te reo, in fact, he gave everything he had left. Even when his body was growing tired, he was working on a project that will be his final gift to te reo, his beloved dictionary.  

When we sat with him in those last few weeks he expressed that he felt he still had a lot left to give and was anxious that he was in the middle of some important work, but that he was at peace with his circumstance. His greatest sadness, he said, was that he would not be around to see his mokopuna grow up.

We would like to end with a brief anecdote:

Among Pāpā John’s interests was a love of ngā manu Māori, or New Zealand native birds. Twelve years ago we were on a long car journey and Rachael posed the question, of all the manu Māori, which is your favourite? Pāpā John replied, “the Kea”.

He chose a resourceful bird. Regarded as highly intelligent, the kea is also a social bird and is often described as playful and cheeky. Innately curious about the world around them, the kea has a natural urge to explore and investigate. It is a bird of great ingenuity.

What a perfect representation of our Pāpā.

Tiwhatiwha te pō, tiwhatiwha te ao

Tau ana ki te motu pāmamao o ō mātou tīpuna.
Tangi ana a ruru ... Kou! Kou!
Ko koe tēnā e koro me tō korowai raukura?

I rere ai mātou ki Mahora-nui-ātea. Ko koe tērā hei manu tāiko mō mātou?
Nāu i ngāwari ai te haere? Nāu te rerenga atu i whakaāio?

E wairurutu ana i tēnei, te rerenga whakamutunga o te keorangi me tana pōkai aroha. Kei whea te ketekete, te kūkū, te kekē o te wao tapu nui a Tāne?

Kua mū, kua mū, e, kua mū.

A kāti, kua hārewa te kākākura ki tua o tāhapatū o te rangi. Waiho mai tō raukura hei taonga mō ngā mokopuna kua mahue mai nei.

Kei te hikurangi o Te Ipukarea, okioki atu rā ki tō tūhunga hāneanea, ki te tauranga o ngā manu taupua o te pō. Ka noho nei mātou i te matapōuri, i te matapōrehu.

Moe mai rā, e Koro e

Professor Moorfield’s work lives on ...

Te Aka Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary (

Te Whanake, the most comprehensive set of Māori language learning/teaching resources (

Other publications of note

Moorfield, J. C. (2017)  Te Whanake and Te Aka digital resources.  In H. Whaanga, T. T. Keegan & M. Apperley (Eds.). He Whare Hangarau Māori - Language, culture & technology. (pp.35-41). Hamilton, New Zealand:  Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao.  Retrieved from 

Ka'ai, T. M., Moorfield, J. C., & O Laoire, M. (2013). New technologies and pedagogy in language revitalisation: The case of Te Reo Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In M. Jones, & S. Ogilvie (Eds.), Keeping Languages Alive:  Documentation, pedagogy and revitalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Ka'ai-Mahuta, R. T. A., Ka'ai, T. M., & Moorfield, J. C. (2013). Kia Ronaki - The Maori Performing Arts. Auckland: Pearson. Retrieved from

Moorfield, J. C. (2013). Te kaea o te kapa haka - He kōrero nā Hoani Te Rangianiwaniwa Rangihau. In R. T. A. Ka'ai-Mahuta, T. M. Ka'ai, & J. C. Moorfield (Eds.), Kia Rōnaki: The Māori Performing Arts, (pp. 141-144).  Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson. Retrieved from

Moorfield, J. C. (2011). Te Aka: Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary and Index. Third Edition. Auckland: Pearson. Retrieved from

Moorfield, J. C., & Ka'ai, T. M. (2011). He Kupu Arotau: Loanwords in Māori. Auckland: Pearson. Retrieved from

Moorfield, J. C. (2001). Te Whakahē i ētahi pōhēhētanga mō te reo Māori - Challenging some misconceptions about the Māori language. Paper presented for an Inaugural Professorial Lecture, September, University of Otago.


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Congratulations Dr. Hana O'Regan!


Te Ipukarea is delighted to congratulate Hana O'Regan, of Ngāi Tahu, for being awarded her doctoral degree at Auckland University of Technology's (AUT) winter graduation ceremony this week. Dr O'Regan's primary supervisor was Prof. Tānia Ka'ai.

Dr O'Regan is known nationally and internationally as an expert in Māori language revitalisation. She has been an integral part of Ngāi Tahu's own language strategy, "Kotahi mano kāika, kotahi mano wawata", and is now the General Manager-Oranga for her tribe.

Te Ipukarea is particularly proud as Hana has supported the Institute's many endeavours, from our research projects through to our engagement initiatives such as He Huatau Auaha creative writing competition for children (for which she has been a judge). She is also a Fellow of the International Centre for Language Revitalisation. 

Dr O'Regan has long worked in the field of language revitalisation and this degree is a feather in her cap.

Kei te manawa tītī o te pūwharetāiko o Tahu, nei rā ngā whakamiha a ō hoa, a Te Ipukarea, e rere atu nei. Ko āu rangahau ka tiakina hei kuru pounamu mō tō iwi, otirā mō tātou, mō te iwi Māori whānui tonu.

Click on the following link to download Dr Hana O'Regans thesis:

"Te timataka o te waiatataka mai o te reo Māori."

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