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Te wiki o Te Reo Māori

Summer Cooper - Māori & Pasifika Prefect —

Tena koutou katoa, nau mai ki te whakarongo ki taku kōrero,

Te wiki o te Reo Māori, why do we have a week to celebrate and focus on Te Reo?

Each year our school participates in celebrating this event and Māori language in some shape or form. Pākēha culture has long been seen as the dominant culture in New Zealand, regardless of the fact that Māori arrival and occupation in this motu has been far longer.

This has meant a very slow journey and hard work towards everyone understanding the significance of speaking te reo Māori and keeping the reo alive.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori originated on the 14th of September 1972, when a group of tangata whenua arrived at the steps of Parliament in Wellington, presenting the government with a ‘language petition’. They were led by Dame Whina Cooper, arriving at Parliament after a long hikoi down the Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island. All ages gathered to demand the active recognition of te reo Māori. This group and others did not stop the korero until 1986, when the Māori language was finally recognised as an official language of Aotearoa.

At first stories were told, that the language was spoken by too few people in Aotearoa for it to be restored as a rich part of our country's future. But now we know that this is simply not true!

At that time in our country’s history, it may have been accurate, but over the last two decades, a number of strategies have been used to try and turn back the tide on this linguistic decline. Now Te Reo is recognised, not just for one week of the year, but is increasingly becoming part of the fabric of our society. A range of organisations, signage and even recently companies and firms are increasingly including Te Reo in their vision statements and in their product promotion. Whilst some promotions in Te Reo are controversial, the vision for including Te Reo māori in main stream products is becoming more and more common.

There are many initiatives out there waiting for our interest to pique and each New Zealander that picks up this interest is helping to increase the profile of Te Reo Māori.

But, unless people carry a deep commitment to this in their own lives we will not be able to see the revival that Te Reo needs. This commitment to seeing Te Reo valued as part of the story of this land and our people, is vital in making sure that the past is remembered, the present expresses value and the future increases both education and usage of Te Reo. This is the foundation and expression of our Tiriti o Waitangi partnership.

We all, regardless of our ethnicity, have a role to play in embracing and continuing our knowledge of Te Reo and tangata whenua culture.

I hope that throughout this week each one of you will learn something different about Te Ao Māori and find a spark to help contribute to the future of this language because language is a living taonga and we are all part of the answer to preserving and normalising Te Reo in our lives.

Whakawhetai koe mo te whakarongo ki taku kōrero

Tena koutou tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Nga mihi nui

Summer Cooper - Māori & Pasifika Prefect 2022