Ōtautahi, Christchurch teenager Rangimarie Te’evale- Hunt made it her mission in 2019 to have te Reo Māori inside her school elevator.
Now, in 2021, that mission has been completed.
Rangimarie’s own voice is now the first in the language to be used in a school elevator, in Aotearoa.
But it took the support of her whānau, her school Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, a Fair Go story, and Schindler Lifts NZ, to make it happen.
You’ll remember her at one of Fair Go’s 2019 Consumer Heroes, where her passion for te Reo really shone through.
Rangimarie remembers feeling emotional when she got a call from the Fair Go team that her dream was finally coming true.
“I was literally in tears,” she says.
“From my imagination came reality which was so great and I’m very, very proud”.
She admits hearing her voice for the first time in her school lift was “weird”.
“It was weird having all my peers around me and hearing my own voice”.
“I ended up taking the stairs for quite a long time until I got a bit lazier,” she says.
The Director of Ao Tawhiti Anita Yarwood said Rangimarie’s voice gave her chills when she first heard it.
“We’re really proud of Rangimarie,” she says. “The mahi that she put into enabling this to happen is massive”.
Anita says it’s given Rangimarie’s peers a chance to see hard work in action.
“If they put the mahi in and want to learn about something, if they want to create something new, every time they ride in that lift, they get to see an example of that."
But Anita says it’s not just the students getting inspired, lots of the school’s staff are learning te Reo Māori this year too, and the lifts help reinforce why it’s important.
Schindler Lifts NZ Managing Director Karen Papps says they saw this as a perfect opportunity for them to support the culture and language of New Zealand, and that this project is only the beginning.
“Ao Tawhiti and Rangimarie have given us permission to use this voice file in other elevators around New Zealand,” she says.
Schindler Lifts NZ have had several requests from businesses and schools around the country to upgrade their lifts too.
For Rangimarie that’s next level news. She hopes one day her voice will end up in Parliament.
“Jacinda hearing my own voice, that is absolutely crazy."
Rangimarie’s focusing on making her voice stand for something more meaningful.
“I’ve seen a lot of change and people coming up to me and saying that they’ve learned all the things in the elevator,” she says.
“I just feel very empowered that I can do this”.