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  • Writer's pictureMark Revington

Because te reo Māori matters


Doormat that reads 'Haere mai' outside the entrance to the NAIA tari

In 1985 the Waitangi Tribunal decided te reo was a taonga and should be protected by the Crown under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


NAIA is not an official language advocate in the way that Te Taura Whiri is. But te reo Māori matters to us and we think it is fundamental to enriching and strengthening a better New Zealand society.


Last year, when Kiritapu Allan was still Minister of Justice, she challenged what she believed was the sometimes-glib use of te reo Māori in government departments.


In a tweet, she objected to what she reckoned was an opportunistic use of reo Māori by Crown agencies in an attempt to be seen as culturally competent.


Now those same departments face an official choke in the use of reo Māori, like it or not and seemingly regardless of whether it was opportunistic. Reserve Bank boss Adrian Orr, an unlikely champion, says the bank’s use of te reo is a reality, not opportunistic. Looks like that debate will be around a while longer.


As a country we’ve come a long way since the Crown tried to wipe out use of reo Māori by literally beating it out of people. After all, it was only in 1984 that Naida Glavish caused a fuss by greeting tolls callers with “kia ora”. Her supervisor disapproved, she was demoted, and eventually reinstated after a national debate.


I think that te reo should be used every day and in every way because it is indeed a taonga.


Dry data will tell you that at one stage, te reo was in danger of dying out. Now, just listen to the tamariki. They sound like manu in their use of te reo.


I reckon the new coalition government is the last wriggle of boomers who don’t like change and the assault on the resurgence of reo Māori is part of that, but here in Aotearoa we have moved on. I don’t know about you, but my social media feeds are full of memes championing te reo use. To me it’s another example of a changing world.


Last year NAIA laid down a wero ‘for other organisations out there who, like us, are not technically in the business of te reo Māori. We must all do our part to normalise te reo Māori within our workplaces, whether that’s by facilitating learning opportunities for our kaimahi, incorporating the language into our business practices or seeking out projects and partners that can strengthen our understanding. As the momentum of the Māori language movement grows, we have the opportunity to recognise te reo Māori as the asset – the taonga – that it truly is, and to invest in a future where it is uplifted and protected by all’.


Te reo Māori is appropriate. And it matters.


Nā Mark Revington










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1 Comment


Karuna
Dec 11, 2023

E mihi nui ana, e tā. 🙏🏽

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