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Learning te reo to communicate, connect, and support

“My favourite thing is connecting and communicating with people,” says Charlotte.

She’s part of the Victim Support Contact Service team and spends her days speaking with a variety of people from all across the motu.

Charlotte smiling at the camera

“It’s our job to take the initial calls that come through our 0800 number, take some details from the victim, and then set them up with a support worker,” she says. “Almost everyone who calls Victim Support is going through something terrible, so you have to be very adaptable and able to offer them a feeling of stability in that moment. It’s really fulfilling to know I’m part of an organisation that really helps people.”

In the future, Charlotte has plans to pursue a career in clinical psychology, driven by her passion for working with people and helping them. “A huge part my role now, and what I’d like to be doing in the future, is understanding, empathising, and coming from a place of care, when communicating with people,” she says.

Charlotte is currently part way through completing Toro Mai - two free introductory online courses on te reo Māori and tikanga Māori through Massey University. It’s something that she hopes will help her both in her current role with Victim Support, and in the future as a psychologist, allowing her to connect with as many people as possible.

“Learning te reo is something I’d wanted to do for a while,” Charlotte explains. “Particularly after certain papers I completed at university, I’ve gone through a lot of growth and now have such a huge appreciation for the significance of culture, and how it affects someone’s life.”

Before beginning her university studies, Charlotte knew very little about Māori language and culture. “I felt kind of embarrassed by how little I knew,” she says. “So, I took it upon myself to get stuck in and take responsibility for my own learning.”

“The course is a really good introduction, it covers things like workplace phrases, home phrases, basic conversation, things like that,” she says. “I don’t know if I’ll ever become completely fluent, but I’m at least trying to become familiar with as many aspects of the language as I can. I notice myself starting to pick up words and recognising them in conversation which is great.”

“You can’t fully appreciate New Zealand without appreciating Māori culture,” says Charlotte. “For me, having an understanding of culture and language is crucial – it shows respect, and it’s such an important way of being able to understand and connect with people.”