Michael Wi, Māori Deaf

  • Turi Māori
  • TV/Media
Michael Wi, is profiled on ‘Marae’, where he shares his experience of growing up as Māori Deaf in a paheka-centric education environment, and learning as an adult about tikanga Māori, and marae protocols.

Michael Wi is featured on the ‘Marae’ programme. He shares his pepeha, and his experiences attending Kelston Deaf Education Centre as a student in the 1960s and 1970s. There were a lot of Māori Deaf students along with Michael, however due to the way things were in New Zealand at the time, none of them learnt te reo Māori or tikanga Māori. After finishing work as a building labourer, Michael happened to join a Māori club where he and other Māori Deaf learnt kapa haka, kawa, thus forming a Māori Deaf group.  

With the Rūaumoko Marae at Kelston Deaf Education Centre due to open shortly (in December 1992), Michael explains how Carl Ross asked him, as a Maori Deaf elder, to be involved in the creation of the carvings for the marae. Through this involvement, Michael has filled in his gaps in knowledge of tikanga Māori, such as what specific carvings mean, and protocols for visiting and being inside a marae.

Michael shares that the artwork and designs inside Rūaumoko Marae was created by the students with the support of elder Māori Deaf. At the opening, there was a huge pōwhiri to mark the occasion.

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