Hero photograph
Photo by Libby Avery

Celebrating Māori Language week 10th - 16th Mahura 2018

Ms Libby Avery —

The theme for this year is 'Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ ‘Let’s make the Māori language strong'. “Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of how to support revitalisation, people acquiring and using it and from the language having the right words and terms to be used well for any purpose."

History of Māori Language Week

In the early 1970’s it was becoming obvious that less and less people in New Zealand were able to speak Māori. Many people were concerned by the state of decline and signed a Māori language petition which was organised, in part, by the Te Reo Māori Society. In total, 30,000 people signed the petition, which was presented to Parliament on 14th September 1972. This day became recognised as Māori Language Day, and in 1975 was responsible for the formation of Māori Language Week.

What is the purpose of Māori Language Week?

Māori Language Week is a week for all New Zealanders to recognise Maori as an official language in New Zealand.   While learning the language is not compulsory, Te Reo is a special part of our kiwi identity. Even New Zealanders who have never learnt Te Reo, understand and often use words like kia ora, haka, puku, and whanau.

Māori Language Week gives us a chance to celebrate something truly unique to our country. While you may not be a fluent Māori speaker, (or even want to be), the Māori language is still a part of who we are as a nation.  Ask any country who has ever played the All Blacks!

Ideas for celebrating Māori Language week with your family

Aside from attending organised events and workshops in your area, there are plenty of other ways you can celebrate Māori Language Week with your children. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Use 5 Māori Words a Day

Create a family challenge where every member has to use 5 Māori words in conversation each day. While it might seem like a difficult task at first, chances are you already know more than 5 words and use them without even thinking. Some common Māori words which are used in everyday conversation include:

  • Kia ora – Hello
  • Kapai – Good
  • Whare – House
  • Kai – Food
  • Whanau – Family
  • Puku – Tummy
  • Korero – Talk, speak, have a conversation
  • Moe – Sleep
  • Waiata – Song, to sing
  • Karakia – Prayer, pray

There is a free download Maori Language app called Kupu Spark. The app allows you to take a photo of any object and will tell you the Maori word and correct pronunciation.