Te Wiki o te Reo Māori
In 2021 Māori Language Week is to be held 13 September to 19 September (Mahuru).
The national Te Reo moment is Tuesday 14 September ( Mahuru) 12pm. This time and day marks the moment when the Māori Language Petition was presented to parliament in 1972.
Literacy Aotearoa will run a Zoom karakia and waiata for all staff - plus some tutors will run their own te reo moments with their learners.
Last year’s Māori Language Week event drew a million registrations from people who said they took time out to celebrate and use te reo Māori, whether through waiata, karakia, or even paddling waka ama. This year the Māori Language Commission wants to get 2 million people involved. After registering online via www.reomaori.co.nz participants can celebrate from wherever they are. The commission will also ask the Guinness Book of World Records to certify it as a world record.
Māori Language Commissioner, Professor Rawinia Higgins says it takes one generation to lose a language and three to get it back. She says te reo needs 1 million speakers by 2040 to be considered safe – and that will require a change in societal attitudes.
This is why Te Wiki o te reo Māori is important.
Professor Higgin's open letter to Aotearoa is below:
Tēnā koutou kātoa,
Right now New Zealanders are showing the rest of the world what kind of people we are.
He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata.
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people. It is people. It is people.
We were anxious not to put pressure on people this Māori Language Week because there are so many things we are being asked to do. It isn’t always easy to live in lockdown, separated from the people and places who make us who we are.
However, we also know that in our hardest times, New Zealanders turn to our first language for comfort and solidarity. For manaakitanga and kotahitanga. When our people were murdered in their place of worship, we sent aroha to their families. When our young soldiers were killed thousands of miles from home, we welcomed them home with an unforgettable haka.
And right now when we see that flashing sign on the side of the deserted road that says Kia kaha, it’s telling us: Don’t give up. Go hard.
We aleady know that 8 in 10 New Zealanders see te reo as part of our national identity, particularly our young people. Last Māori Language Week more than 1 million of us stopped what we were doing and celebrated te reo together. We did it because te reo is still endangered, it could still disappear if we don’t continue to fight for it. Even last year we were living in a COVID world so we designed our virtual Māori Language Moment with our people’s safety in mind. Our mass participation events – like our parades and this moment – are important ways to strengthen the ongoing Māori language movement and to embed social change across our communities.
This Māori Language Week we want you to join us as we aim to set the record for the biggest single, simultaneous celebration of an endangered language on earth. Joining in is as easy as tuning into our Facebook page or playing a Māori song: or as hard as delivering a whaikōrero. It’s up to you. All we ask is that you register so your participation can be counted.
New Zealanders are pretty good at standing together for things we believe in. We might not be able to come together in person. But we can still come together in spirit. And break a world record or two while we’re at it!
Kia kaha te reo Māori. May our language be strong.
Kia kaha Aotearoa. May our country be strong.
Kia ora Aotearoa. May our people be well.
Nā, Professor Rawinia Higgins
Māori Language Commissioner | Elected member, UN Global Taskforce for a Decade for Indigenous Languages 2022-2032