What do spandex-clad men battling one another, and perfect te reo delivered with impeccable comic timing have in common? The answer is unfailingly entertaining wrestling show, Mana Mamau!

Combining popular entertainment with an almost entirely Te Reo Maori language presentation, Mana Mamau! is at vanguard of a new kind of television programming in New Zealand.The show represents a populist approach to promoting Maori language and culture following the success of institutional and community-based initiatives like Kura Kaupapa Maori (Maori language and value-based schools) that have underpinned the Maori Renaissance.

In Mana Mamau!, the high-wire acrobatics and hard-hitting action of professional wrestling in New Zealand is paired with almost fully Te Reo Maori commentary. Larger than life wrestlers like John E. Kingi (Nga Puhi) and Te Tahi Vinny Dunn utitlise their Maori heritage majorly in their personas, and the reigning champion, Deal Del Knox, is a proud Maori.But where Mana Mamau! really succeeds in is in its Maori language presentation. The Maori language commentary carries a uniquely Maori sense of cheekiness and humour. (Example from the show) As well, two charismatic Maori hosts, Tumano Harawira and Patara Berryman break down the storylines and build hype between the matches in fluent everyday Te Reo. All in all, 80% of the show is presented in Te Reo.

For any culture to flourish, it must flourish in the popular imagination, as part of the everyday habits of people: the way that that lives. A popular format like Mana Mamau! has the potential to introduce and foster a love of Maori language to the next generation, through their love of wrestling (or rugby, or whatever).With new technologies encouraging increasingly individualistic behaviour in our youth (mp3 players, hand-held gaming devices), television has become one of the only technologised ways we still spend time with friends and whanau. When we are in front of the television, we share laughs, food, conversation – we share time with each other. In combining popular programming with Maori language presentation, Mana Mamau! follows a trend that began with Maori Television’s presentation of NZ Breakers basketball games, and continued with the broadcaster’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

Mana Ma Mau! takes it to the next level, adding to the everyday practice of Maori culture. The over-the-top jargon of wrestling has inspired the makers of Mana Mamau! to push the Maori language in new and inventive directions. Avid fans of the show now know how to say ‘Tilter-whirl slam’ and ‘Reverse DDT’ in Maori. In itself, these terms may seem trivial, but from a broader perspective, it represents the use of Maori as a living language, that changes and adapts to the everyday changes in our world. This is the reason behind the founding of Maori Television: to enable Maori language, values and culture to be immersed into people’s everyday life.Shows like Mana Mamau! gets kids hooked by dint of their popular appeal.

They are like chatter-rings, or whatever other fad that swept through your school when you or your kids were young. Kids watch for the wrestling, not even noticing that they are being drawn into learning Te Reo, and being pulled into the world of values and cultural practices that language opens us to. Shows like Mana Mamau! can be the chatter-rings for the next generation, leading the way for Maori language and values to flourish by being part of the everyday habits of the way people live.

Mana Mamau is a spectacular new Professional Wrestling show where sport and entertainment collide. Showcasing the current generation of wrestling talent, the Impact Pro Wrestling circuit is overflowing with passionate and vibrant Ma¯ori and Pacific Island athletes and Mana Mamau covers all of the action in this exciting new series.

 

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