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Meet Amelia Butler of Learn Māori Abroad in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amelia Butler.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am an indigenous Māori woman from Aotearoa (New Zealand). I moved to LA 11 years ago to pursue a career as a professional hip hop dancer in the LA entertainment industry. About three years ago, I started a traditional Māori performance group and about a year and a half ago I launched my business, Learn Māori Abroad. I teach the Māori language via video chat to kiwis (New Zealanders) living abroad who desire a deeper connection to their New Zealand heritage. I also teach haka and poi workshops across the US. I have been teaching dance for 20 years.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yes it has be a smooth road starting my business and things have really taken off! The month I started the business I had a group of 10 kiwis (New Zealanders) who were living in New York sign up for Māori language lessons. Since teaching my first haka workshop in January 2019 I am now teaching every weekend and am booked with workshops for the next three months. I also travel about once a month and have been to different places in the US to share the haka and poi. Having grown up in New Zealand immersed in the culture, the culture has always been a big part of my life and is, in a way, “normal” for me. What I didn’t realize though was how many Americans are interested in learning and experiencing the culture. I share a lot of ancestral knowledge and esoteric wisdom of the Māori people in my workshops and this knowledge is often very new for people. A big part of why I share the culture freely here in the US is because people really connect with it and gain a sense of identity from it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Learn Māori Abroad – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
My business, Learn Māori Abroad, offers Māori cultural workshops such as haka and poi (poi ball) workshops, and Māori language lessons via video chat. I also have an authentic Māori performance group who perform our traditional songs and dances. Most of the group is Māori from Aotearoa (New Zealand). My business specializes in “all things Māori”. Gratefully, I am the only Māori person sharing this combination of offerings in the USA. I am proud to share my culture here in the US and empower others to connect to their identity, who they are, and where they come from. I also love sharing tools and exercises that transform people’s mindsets from a “Western” perspective to an indigenous (Māori) mindset… The work I share really enables people to be fully self-expressed in who they are, connect with their authentic self and connect with nature.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I plan to grow my business and travel more so more people can experience the Māori cultural workshops I teach. Many people feel empowered after taking my workshops. They also experience a profound and deep connection to themselves, nature, their ancestors, others and the culture. The work I do is both physical and spiritual. My workshops also transform people’s mindsets and often people discover something that they are not aware of because they have never engaged with life from an indigenous mindset/perspective. I would love for more people to have this experience.

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