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NZ Reo, NZ Pride - Maori Language Week 2003

Media Release 25 July 2003

NZ Reo, NZ Pride - Maori Language Week 2003

Most New Zealanders feel proud when they see the Haka performed by our sports teams or when they see a koru or a bone carving when traveling said Chief Executive of the Maori Language Commission Haami Piripi. The aim of Maori Language Week this year (28 July - 3 August) is to build on this sense of pride and encourage the wider use of te reo.

This year's theme is "NZ Reo, NZ Pride". The week is aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to have a greater sense of pride in the Maori language, and its contribution to the unique New Zealand identity. Another aim of the week is to encourage the wider use of Maori language in a range of different settings.

Mr Piripi says there is a wide range of activities for people to choose from in support of Maori Language Week. "The events include concerts, roadshows, radio shows, art exhibitions, posters, film screenings and theatre being supported by a wide range of sports, business and community organisations".

A range of material has been developed to mark the week, including wallet sized anthem cards to promote the use of Maori language through the NZ national anthem. Some of these cards were given away to supporters who travelled to the last Bledisloe Cup game in Sydney (Friday 25th July, Wellington airport). Some government organisations including Parliament have agreed to play the anthem on their phone system during the week.

Maori Language Week began in 1975 and this year is being coordinated by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori - the Maori Language Commission; Te Puni Kokiri - Ministry of Maori Development and Te Kahui Tika Tangata - the Human Rights Commission.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says that non-speakers of Maori have an important role to play by simply encouraging, or at the least not being negative, when Maori language is used.

"I am particularly hopeful that Maori Language Week 2003 will strengthen positive attitudes to the use of te reo amongst non Maori speakers," he said. Te Puni Kokiri Chief Executive Leith Comer says TPK's latest research shows that the Maori language is no longer under threat of being lost completely, but the challenge now was to concentrate on its "revitalisation".

"Research shows that the continuous decline in the number of Maori speakers has been arrested. The health of the language has stabilised. However, we are not out of the woods, we must continue to learn and use te reo and ensure it not only lives but is vitalised.

For a calendar of events see the Maori Language Week web site: www.nzreo.org.nz.

ENDS

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