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Kaupapa o te marama – Topic of the month

The kaupapa of the month is Te wiki o te reo Māori.

Māori language week is coming up, so I wanted to delve into some of the history of te reo Māori along with what it means for me and my whanau.

Te wiki o te reo Māori gives us the opportunity to celebrate te reo Māori as a cultural taonga. It has been celebrated since 1975, and this year from 11-17th of September, with the theme: ‘Kia Ora Te Reo’.

“Māori Language Commission Chief Executive Ngahiwi Apanui says the theme was chosen to celebrate New Zealand’s indigenous greeting, but also because the words ‘Kia Ora’ are an exact description of the intent of the new partnership for te reo Māori revitalisation between the Crown and Māori.

“The new Māori Language Act 2016 sets up a new organisation, Te Mātāwai,

to lead revitalisation among Māori. The Māori Language Commission will concentrate on the public sector and wider New Zealand. Together we will ensure that the Māori language has ‘ora’ – life, health and vitality – which is what we convey every time we say ‘kia ora’.” (Source)


Āku whakaaro – My thoughts

To give some context I would like to share some of the significant points in the history of the Māori language. This quick video from One News recognises how a movement started in 1972 to revive te reo Māori. The hair looks different but the face of Rawiri Paratene is very familiar! 🙂

Here’s a brief timeline to emphasise the lengthy journey and a few of the milestones achieved in te reo Māori movement, over the past 45 years in New Zealand. For a more detailed timeline see here.

  • 1972 – A petition was presented to Parliment. Over 30,000 people signed the petition wanting the opportunity to learn the Māori language in school.
  • 1975 – Māori language  day went ahead and was later changed to Māori language week.
  • 1981 – The first Wananga was established.
  • 1982 – The first kohanga reo was established. Recognition the language was dying, Kohanga was seen as a place where the language could be revitalised!
  • 1987 – Maori language was recognised as an official language.
  • 1990 – The Ministry of Education supported the establishment of Kura kaupapa.

This is the journey of the indigenous person of New Zealand and it’s far from the end. I find it sad that this subject is still being met with such resistance.  I would like to pay tribute to the amazing people paving the way for change.


What te reo Māori means to me

For me te reo Māori is a taonga. It is a big part of the journey I am on. As I gain more language as well as understanding, it feels like pieces of my life’s puzzle are fitting together. It’s so important we nurture it for future generations, the earlier the better.

As Early Childhood Educators we can recognise the value of te reo and tikanga Māori and how this can enhance a childs mana, self esteem and also positive self-perception.

My eldest daughter has just turned 5 and transitioned to school. I struggled with my decisions in regards to her education. We have schools at each end of our street but decided to send her to a school across town. This is a bit of a commute each morning but I believe the commitment is worth it, because it is a bilingual unit, the only one available in Nelson. It is open to any child who wants to learn and it incorporates both languages, Māori and English.

For me it has always been really important that my daughter has opportunities to stand tall in both the Pakeha and the Māori world. With the opportunities she has had at Kindergarten   along with my encouragement, love and passion for Māori at home she has such a positive and confident view of herself as Māori. Her confidence is something I am in complete awe of, she continues to inspire me.

I believe language is a large part of identity. It feels disjointed to say I’m Māori yet I am not able to speak te reo Māori fluently. This has created some sadness within me but it has also become a driving force.

I know that others for many reasons have found themselves on this waka too.

I recognise I am still a learner and I enjoy that learning and growth but I do also imagine a world where the disconnect of language and culture doesn’t exist. The earlier children are exposed to language the quicker they pick it up. As adults it is more difficult to learn that second language but developmentally children are just like sponges ready to take it all in!

The life I imagine for my children is a life where te reo Māori is spoken and valued as a language, one where the culture and customs are restored and treasured by many. Particularly I hope for a time where we don’t have to fight and justify our need to reconnect with the language and indigenous culture of this country. A society where being Māori is an accepted part of our everyday world and one that doesn’t create stigma or judgement and at times even outrage! I feel after so many years it’s time for that positive change and commitment.


Ngā rauemi a Poi Princess – Poi Princess resources

I have been speaking to some of you who support me and my business, and I would like to celebrate that we all do the best we can with the skills and knowledge we have to encourage Māori with our tamariki, Koia kei a koe!

I love the passion I hear from the parents, grandparents and teachers out there doing it.

I continue on my quest to find resources that help us support this kaupapa, and am excited to share a few new board books available to encourage Māori at the earlier stages in life. These pukapuka are for pēpi in particular. I have wanted more of these types of resources to come on the market for such a long time! These books often not only help our tamariki iti, they also help us. Click on the images for more details.


These books for babies are By Fraser Williamson and Matthew Williamson

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