Source: Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2023 https://www.reomaori.co.nz/
Nau mai, Haere mai to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week.
The theme of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is Kia Kaha to reo Māori – Make the language strong. In 1987, Minister of Māori Affairs Koro Wetere addressed Parliament stating, “Te Reo Māori was not just for Māori but for the whole nation.” Without the language, an entire culture and identity would be lost.
The revitalisation of te reo Māori in 1970
The 1970s was a decade of renaissance, resurgence, and revitalisation of Māori culture. Māori leaders and groups came together and advocated in reclaiming a voice of their cultural identity.
On 14th September 1972, the efforts of Nga Tama Toa and Te Reo Māori Society gathered 30,000 signatures and led a peaceful protest to Parliament. The petition represented the voices for te reo Māori be taught in schools. The day was declared as Māori Language Day.
In 1975, Māori Language Day was expanded to Māori Language Week. Māori Language became New Zealand’s official language in 1987. In September 2016, the Māori Language Commission hosted its first parade in Wellington to reunite schools and communities behind te reo.
Three years on, more than 30,000 people marched in seven parades across Aotearoa. The challenge for the nation is for ALL to celebrate the language.
To understand how Te Wiki o te Reo Māori emerged and a significant event for all, one must step back in time to know of its whakapapa (origins/connection).
Te Tiriti o Waitangi signed in 1840 between Māori chiefs and the Crown, obliged the crown to protect te reo Māori. However, the very opposite occurred when the Crown prohibited te reo Māori and punished any Māori who spoke the native language.
Sadly, this meant generations of Tangata Whenua were not raised or versed in their own native language. Over time and through the decades, Māori people advocated for the revitalisation of te reo – their language.
Source: Parliament.NZ. (11 Sept 2023). Celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/celebrate-te-wiki-o-te-reo-m%C4%81ori-2023
March on Parliament in support of the Māori Language. Dominion post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1980/2470/20A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22342091
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library
Whilst there have been many challenges along the way in revitalising the language, the movement created a pathway for Te Kohanga Reo (Māori language nest).
Te Kohanga Reo works alongside whānau (extended families) and their tamariki (children) to be fully immersed in Māori language, customs, and values.
Te Kohanga Reo was seen as an essential vehicle to bring an endangered language to life.
HOST International Aotearoa position
Part of HOST’s kaupapa (vision) is to work alongside Māori, to foster relationships with Tangata Whenua in welcoming refugees and migrants to the beautiful shores of Aotearoa New Zealand.
More importantly, HOST is committed to working in culturally informed ways to enhance bicultural relationships between the organisation and host communities.
The application in practice is instilling our own unique tikanga and leading by example, demonstrating our organisational values of kanorau – diversity, ngākau pono – integrity, ngākau aroha – compassion, auaha – innovation and whakaute/mana – respect.
We have made a commitment to becoming familiar with te ao Māori (Māori world view) and in doing so, supporting important events such as Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Matariki and embracing te reo Māori.
This is shown through our effort of karakia (prayer), use of te reo Māori in our presentations, and learning of waiata.
Furthermore, we come to learn and engage in te ao Māori by becoming familiar with protocols of welcoming former refugees and migrants through pōwhiri, mihi whakatau, and farewell through poroaki.
We consciously plan and seek out how we can build respectful and positive relationships with Tangata Whenua throughout the motu (land). We are open to the sharing of Wānanga (learning) in ways that are tika and pono (correct processes) to the kaupapa.
As the theme states Kia Kaha te reo Māori – Strengthening the language. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a few steps. And so it is for te reo Māori.
What does this mean for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori?
Recognition of te reo Māori is also about creating respectful relationships and spaces to learn from one another. Make the time and space for these relationships, to learn together and from each other.
Below are some links to help you on your journey to becoming familiar with the language and perhaps to use the phrases of kia ora (hello) or ka kite (goodbye) and a personal favourite kai (food).
Te Wiki o te Reo Māori aims to inspire New Zealanders to speak the Māori language proudly.
Community resource booklet to organise a Te Wiki o te Reo Māori event: https://www.reomaori.co.nz/how-to-organise-an-event-for-te-wiki-o-te-reo-maori
Printable phrase cards: https://www.reomaori.co.nz/give-te-reo-a-go
Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei.
Seek the treasure you value most dearly, if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.