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Start a new tradition in Māori Language Week

Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Minister of Maori Affairs

1 July 2013 Media Release        

Start a new tradition in Māori Language Week

“We’re not asking you to turn into a Māori language expert overnight: We’re just asking you to give it a go.”

This is the call from Māori Affairs Minister Hon Dr Pita Sharples at the start of Māori Language Week 2013.  This year’s theme is Ngā Ingoa Māori: Māori names.
“For those of us with Māori names – just knowing someone is trying to say your name properly means a lot.”

The settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi settlements has seen the restoration of some Māori place names across Aotearoa, but Dr Sharples is disappointed that some New Zealanders remain bitterly opposed.

“The renaming of Aotearoa over the past 200-years has seen Māori identity removed from Te Tai Tokerau or Northland in the north, right down to Rakiura or Stewart Island in the south.”

Dr Sharples says the reality is that Māori place names are not just words: “A name is a history, a whakapapa, a heritage. A name is your identity.”

“I’m inviting all New Zealanders not to break with tradition but to start a new one. Find out about the whakapapa or history of the place you call home, and find out how to pronounce its Māori name properly.  Try to pronounce your Māori mate’s name properly if you don’t already!”

Overall the pronunciation of te reo Māori is improving from our broadcasters to our educators: part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2013 is about providing people with the tools to help with pronunciation of well-known place names. 

Dr Sharples says history and identity is a living thing that is created, nurtured and defined by people.

“Fourteen years ago, thousands of miles away from here the All Blacks were about to take on England as part of the Rugby World Cup and my irāmutu, Hinewehi Mohi, sang our national anthem in Māori.   She sparked huge debate but, by breaking with tradition, Hinewehi sparked a new one.” 

“From then on, singing our anthem in English and in te reo Māori became part of our custom.  When the All Blacks took on France not far from here a few weeks ago, the stands resonated with thousands of people singing in te reo Māori.   New Zealand children are now growing up knowing their national song not just in English but in te reo Māori as well.” 

“So what I’m inviting all New Zealanders to do is less about breaking with traditions: and more about starting new ones.”

Website: http://www.koreromaori.co.nz/news/mlw


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