New Zealand’s first chartered bilingual Māori/English Toastmasters club

30 May, 2017
New Zealand’s first chartered bilingual Māori/English Toastmasters club
Trent Dallas of AUT Tōhī Toastmasters club.

Tōhī Toastmasters at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is celebrating its newfound status as New Zealand’s first chartered bilingual Te Reo Māori/English Toastmasters club.

Established in March 2016, Tōhī aims to empower its members to speak Te Reo with confidence. The majority of them are enrolled in the free Te Reo Māori courses offered at AUT.

Originally intended as a platform for students and staff to practice Te Reo beyond the classroom and marae, Tōhī is open to the general public.

Its 20-strong membership gathers weekly at AUT City Campus – half is Māori and the other half is representative of many nations.

Fear of speaking in front of a crowd is one of the most common phobias. This group is taking on the challenge of public speaking in another language, as they learn both.

President of Tōhī Toastmasters, Trent Dallas, says the club encourages members to step outside their comfort zone.

“By learning, listening and preparing speeches in Te Reo each week, we are constantly improving our knowledge and proficiency. Our goal is for each member to achieve a ratio of 50:50 Te Reo Māori and English while they are in the club,” he says.

“The Tōhī motto is ‘Nau mai, te hapa’ – we welcome mistakes.”

Dallas is also a student advisor at the AUT Māori Liaison Services Office.

He has aligned the Tōhī Toastmasters timetable with the language programmes at AUT, so students have an opportunity to practice their kōrero (speeches) before assessments.

In time, he hopes to develop a Tōhī ‘staircase’ by creating a full Te Reo Māori Toastmasters club for fluent speakers.

“We welcome both learners and fluent speakers of Te Reo – to develop their skills and share their knowledge respectively,” says Dallas.

Members celebrated their chartered status with an informal function.

Special guest, Kingi Biddle, world-ranked public speaker, marked the occasion with a speech.

Tōhī Toastmasters meet for lunch on Tuesdays at WB102.