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The power behind saying kia ora

Rachel Weston. Photo: John Borren.

One of the simplest yet most powerful expressions for any Kiwi to learn during Maori Language Week if they don’t already know it is ‘kia ora’. 

It’s a greeting wishing good health and literally translates as ‘have life’ or ‘be healthy’. 

“Saying ‘hello’ with a smile in any language can break down barriers,” says author Rachel Weston who has published a new book titled ‘Hello! Kia ora! Welcome new friend!’

The book, beautifully illustrated by Deborah Hinde, captures those moments when young children meet each other for the first time and are made to feel welcome.

“It was due to the experiences I had with our own three children,” says Rachel.

“The culture of an early childhood centre has a huge impact on whether they feel they belong.”

She smiles as she recalls the caring and kind attitude that permeates through a centre, flowing down from the teachers.

“You know your children are cared about, are feeling safe and welcome and they flourish in that environment.”

Rachel’s book also reflects something as simple as children remembering what it’s like to be the new person on their first day at kindergarten.

“You want your children to have a sense of belonging and make friends,” says Rachel.

“Children learn from what’s being modeled such as kindness and caring for others.”

The book also says ‘kia ora’ in 24 other languages.

“Children are great with trying new languages, even if it’s just the ‘hello’ greeting. If you see someone without a smile, then give them one of yours really sums it up.”

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