Going to Class

by barbznz

Doing the MACCESS course made a huge impact on our lives. Learning to drive of course was a major but just having that little bit of extra money really made a difference. 

We brought our first microwave, Video player and a 14 inch TV for the bedroom. They were al SAMSUNG. My brother told me that I had wasted my money buying Japanese junk. He brought Phillips VCR. He said, it was so much better quality. He was wrong of course. It player was back in the shop in a couple of months. 

All three of them lasted for over 20 years without incident. The video player eventually wore the head outs long after DVD’s were in vogue. We up dated the kitchen in Malfroy Road and brought a smaller one. We  gave the still working microwave to someone who needed it. And the same with the TV. The remote stopped working but the TV went to a new home as well. 

It also meant going to polytech for Maori classes. There were people from kohanga all over the region. I was a bit nervous going to the first class. When I walked into the room, one of the women looked at me and said, we may as well give up now this pakeha is going to be top of the class. 

I looked at her square in the eyes and I said, you have been brought up on the marae, you have heard Maori spoken all your life, how on earth can I compete with that. She smiled as she saw my point. After that, we got on to the business of why we came. I was so difficult, but I persevered even after the money ran out and we stopped getting paid, I kept going back.

In then end only a few of us finished the course and I finished somewhere in the middle, certainly wasn’t top of the class.

Things at Kohanga were moving too. We got permission to have a small parcel of land at the back of the field to build our own building. The building was designed like a wharenui,  though the windows on the sides would be bigger than usual. It also meant the kohanga became split.

I don’t really remember how it happened but it definitely done along tribal lines. locals and others. As I have said before, because the kohanga was on a school and not attached to marae we weren’t tribally based. The majority of people who came were from out of the area. There were some local mothers as well.

When the outside of the building was finished it was decided that one group was do the inside decoration including the tukutuku panelling for the walls  and the kowhaiwhai for the ceilings. The local women decided to do this. They were also really good at art and crafts.The plan was that they would leave their children with us while the worked but eventually they took their children with them. 

It was a about the same time that Manuhopukia decided that she was going to retired and she looked around for a replacement. Amongst us was a primary school teacher from Gisborne way. Both her and her husband were fluent in the language. She seems an obvious choice but the locals wanted one of them to run it. That deepened the split between us even further. 

Effectively there were two kohanga running at the same time from the same funding.  the principal of the school backed us. It was really difficult. Simon was almost five by this stage so it wouldn’t belong until our kohanga days were over and it wouldn’t be my issue any more.

Of course, now I could drive, I could visit Suzanne when I wanted. I usually went on Sunday afternoons. But I still felt guilty about abandoning her. But she was happy and well cared for. The staff were mostly young and they brought a whole new range of experiences for Suzanne. After Reuben’s death Cameron moved into the house. 

Life continued on it’s merry way. Unfortunately life for me is never simple and there were clouds on the horizon.

© Barbara Hart 2014

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