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“Watch your language, mate!”

“Watch your language, mate!”
Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party co-leader 27 March 2008

An advertising billboard that invites people to ‘Rent a car ... so you can visit any whaka’ is not just an inappropriate use of Maori language, it is an abuse of a people, our history and our culture,” said Dr Pita Sharples of the Maori Party.

“Sure they probably think a word out of context is a joke,” he said. “But thousands of our people over years and years have worked tirelessly to restore te rangatiratanga o te reo Maori, and I doubt they think it’s very funny.

“The language champions began with campaigns to promote proper pronunciation of Maori place names, and to encourage people to take an interest in, and understand, the history of their local areas that is recorded in place names.

“It hasn’t been easy, and we still have quite a way to go. It just gets right up your nose to see advertisers and their clients still mocking our efforts, and our reo.

“The thing is, the place names of Aotearoa are for everybody, and many people get a real buzz out of knowing about what is, after all, their history too.

“To put it another way, if this advertiser only realised it, there are great opportunities to use te reo Maori in constructive and creative ways. I guess their clients will decide if this billboard measures up.


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