Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week has been celebrated in New Zealand since 1975. It aims to promote and encourage the use of te reo Māori, revitalising the language as a unique cultural treasure for all New Zealanders. This year’s theme is Kia Kaha te Reo Māori – let’s make the Māori language strong.
Māori Language Day is September 14, which marks the day in 1972 when a petition signed by 30,000 New Zealanders was presented to parliament, asking for active recognition of te reo Māori. Three years later, Māori Language Day became Māori Language Week. We may not be able to participate in Māori language parades this year, but despite mate korona (coronavirus), there are still plenty of opportunities to bring te reo Māori into our lives.
Celebrations around the country of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori will look a little different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to get involved. In Wellington, light projections of Māori phrases on the side of The Embassy and Te Papa will encourage the public to learn and practise te reo. Hutt City Libraries will be hosting its very own Māori language game, Kupu Tupu, while Ōtautahi (Christchurch) is offering the Te Reo Māori Activity Trail to explore the city and improve your te reo. The Toitū Research Centre in Dunedin is becoming a language hub for the week, offering the chance to learn through self-led interactive activities.
In the absence of more live events to attend, the whole country can instead take part in a Māori language moment. The Māori Language Commission wants to get 1 million people speaking, singing and celebrating te reo at the same time on Monday, September 14 at 12pm. What you do for your moment can be as simple as playing a song in Māori or starting lunch with a karakia – the main thing is that New Zealanders come together to celebrate te reo Māori.
Check out the list of 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know – and see if you can learn a couple more this week. For an even loftier goal, you can challenge yourself to learn a word a day for a year with this list of 365 Māori words. Try writing down your word of the day on your daily planner or online calendar, and get members of your household or workplace involved too. For those of you with a fondness for label makers, integrate Māori into your everyday life by attaching labels to items around your home with their Maori names – for example, ipupara – rubbish bin, kāpata – cupboard, ngaruiti – microwave, pouaka whakaata – TV, and tiwharawhara – stereo.
There are free beginners courses in Te Reo Māori available online, or if you prefer a class environment to test your conversational skills, Ara offers beginners, everyday, intermediate and upper intermediate courses. If you want to try some Māori cuisine-inspired recipes, grab yourself a copy of Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso.
Enter the E Tū Whānau Song Competition with an original song inspiring positive change and be in to win cash prizes! Make ‘kia ora’ your greeting when you’re saying hi to people this week. Recruit a bunch of friends for a singalong to an easy te reo song, such as Tūtira Mai or the National Anthem. Listen to the Te Wiki o te Reo Māori playlist on Spotify. Tune into Māori Television or your local iwi radio station. Try some Māori legend comics in te reo or English with Sanctuary: Pūrakau Evolution.
Whatever you do to improve your use and understanding of te reo Māori, kia kaha!