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MESSAGE FOR PM: NZ Supports te reo Māori – you should too

MESSAGE FOR PM: NZ Supports te reo Māori – you should too

As Māori Language Week celebrations and commemoration of 40 years draws to an end, the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, is once again hugely encouraged by the widespread support for Māori language from throughout the country and also internationally. Our conclusion? It is more than time Māori language was promoted intensively and for longer periods of time.

We think it especially important to bring this message to the public following the Prime Minister’s comments on Friday at a Waiuku College school assembly, where students understood the PM to say that extending Māori Language Week for a longer period (a month), would 'bore' people.

Particularly the Commission wishes to publicly convey its sincere appreciation to the school, particularly to one student who showed awareness of the plight of Māori language and chose to speak with the Prime Minister about te reo Māori. The courage she displayed is a courage we would hope a Prime Minister would display in protecting the indigenous language of a country that requires ongoing support.

"This year’s Māori Language Week has again demonstrated interest and active participation that has been evident over the last 10 years," says Māori Language Commissioner, Dr Wayne Ngata “With the incredible levels of support we've had from both public sector and private businesses, we could easily have extended to a month. Taura Whiri staff are still dealing with hundreds of new orders for the free-to-public resources and we expect this to continue. This tops nearly 30,000 resources already sent out across the country to all schools and communities in the week leading up to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori."

Additionally, the launch of the Week at Waiwhetū Marae, Lower Hutt last Monday, attended by over 200 people and attracted an internet based audience of 4,500 nationally and internationally. "By utilising technology effectively, we’re able to engage with our stakeholders. The demand is certainly there and the response has been significant, IT platforms and tools, have become a natural feature in the revitalisation of minority languages. Māori language has established itself as a global leader in language revitalisation by using critical new technologies in dispersing its use as widely and as frequently as possible."

Promotion during Māori Language Week has included advertising by Progressive Foods in FreshChoice and SuperValue supermarkets; Māori language promotion by the NZ Black Caps, Silver Ferns and Vodafone Warriors, and increased Māori language usage by most broadcasters including Radio NZ, Māori TV, TVNZ, TV3, the New Zealand Herald, Stuff.co.nz, regional and local newspapers and radio. "Normalising the language into everyday affairs and activities is key and is increasingly becoming a priority for New Zealanders."

An emerging generation of motivated young New Zealanders has also been a highlight of this year's Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Kāpiti student Finnian Galbraith's plea to respect the Māori language and its unique role in defining our nation's history and identity drew incredible attention both nationally and internationally, this week.

This year continues extension of the Commission's 50 week campaign to promote Māori language throughout the year. Te Rerenga Kōrero o te Wiki (Phrase of the Week), introduces 50 phrases, one per week over the course of the next year. "The phrases are simple and targeted at everyday use between children and adults. Additionally they have been written to suit general communication for anyone.”

“For te reo Māori to survive it must be nurtured at the highest levels. NZ has shown it is ready to nurture te reo Māori and so too should the Prime Minister” says Dr Ngata.

ENDS

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