What te reo Māori means to me

“What I have just covered (the E Tū Whānau values) are what te reo Māori means to me and when I learn about te reo Māori, I learn about me.”

That’s how 13-year-old Candis Brunning ended her speech about the E Tū Whānau values at the recent Te Arawa Manu Kōrero regional competition in Taupo.

She was greeted by silence.

“You could have heard a pin drop,” says her mother, Mere Keane.  “People were captured by her speech. Some had tears in their eyes. A kuia she had never met before was moved to come up and embrace her. It was very moving.”

In her speech Candis described the E Tū Whānau kaupapa, with its emphasis on whakapapa, tikanga and other traditional Māori values, as a way to prevent violence within whānau .

Hui a turning point

Candis and her own whānau were introduced to the kaupapa through friends at Taupo’s Tāne and Wāhine Ora Wellness programmes.

Candis and Shaneece Brunning

Candis and her 15-year-old sister, Shaneece, then took part in the recent E Tū Whānau Rangatahi hui at Pahaoa Marae,Te Kaha.

The four-day hui at was a turning point for both girls.

“That’s where I really learnt about E Tū Whānau. It’s helped me realise who I am, in a way, and what I’m worth,” says Candis.

Her enthusiasm for the kaupapa, and its potential to make long lasting changes in the way whānau live together, is contagious. It’s indicative of the way E Tū Whānau is quietly influencing positive lifestyles throughout Aotearoa.

Candis now spreads the word amongst friends and fellow students at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, many of whom are hearing about E Tū  Whānau for the first time.

“They’re really interested. They think it’s cool.’

Candis is a good sportswoman as well as an orator. She and Shaneece both achieved black belts in karate after only three years of training.

Promising golfers

They’re also promising golfers and belong to the four person Taupo-nui-a-Tia College golf team that recently won pennants at the 2016 Secondary Schools Golf Tournament. Each has won individual titles in the junior sections of national events and in competitions at their local Taupo Golf Club.

Dad, Dalvin Brunning, says that getting the girls into sports like golfing and karate, as opposed to more popular codes like rugby and netball, gives them an opportunity to get out there and be seen.

The whole Brunning whānau are right behind their tamariki, encouraging them to take on challenges, try their best at all times and celebrate their achievements

“My dad George has a crook leg but he’s out there with them every time they compete, walking with them as they play or driving round on the cart,” says Dalvin.

Success, it seems, inspires further success.

Inspired by Aunty

Their aunt, multi-award winning actress Nancy Brunning, is an idol to the girls.

In 2014, Candis came first in the BoP Junior Tiger Tourny and fifth in the national Junior Tiger Tourny, the same competition that Lydia Ko won in 2009 when she was 11.

“She was a head girl at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College. I feel so proud every time I look up and see her name on our ’wall of fame’. She’s such an inspiration,” says Candis who, along with her sister, is on track to become another member of the Brunning whānau to achieve success on her own terms and inspire others to do the same.

It’s the power and strength of the whānau – te mana kaha o te whānau – in action.