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Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Kia ora e te whānau, and happy Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori! Yes, it’s Māori Language Week. And even though we’ll be celebrating a little differently this year as we work to stamp out mate korona, there are still plenty of opportunities to embrace this taonga and advance our individual te reo journeys.

Almost 50 years ago, a group of Māori and Pākehā started a campaign to revive to reo Māori and raise awareness about its importance. We mihi to their actions today. In 2021, efforts to support and celebrate te reo – to ensure it’s a living and thriving language – are well underway. But there’s plenty more mahi to do!

To reach our goal of a million Kiwis speaking te reo Māori by 2040, we’re growing the number of te reo Māori teachers with our Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori initiative, so that all ākonga in Aotearoa can have te reo included in their learning every day. We’ve increased funding for Kōhanga Reo and Māori broadcasting, and we’ve invested in iwi-led projects that support mana whenua to tell their own stories in their own words. This voice is critical to our mahi to ensure Aotearoa’s histories are taught in schools, providing inspiration for even more people to embrace te reo.

There’s a role for all of us to play in securing the future of our nation’s indigenous language. This was demonstrated with te wiki’s virtual Māori Language Moment, which united New Zealanders in celebration across the motu on Tuesday – proving that, no matter our alert level, we can figure out ways to champion this beautiful taonga.

It’s really important to remember that we’re all on our own learning journey: if you’re not very confident, or you think you should be able to speak more than you currently can, even just using a few kupu or practicing your pronunciation is a great start.

Ka pai, ka haere tātou – let’s go!

Getting your kawhe fix

If caffeine is a regular part of your daily routine, why not make te reo part of that ritual? Here are some kīanga (phrases) to get what you need – whether you’re supporting your local café or just asking your flatmate a favour.

He kawhe koa (can I have a coffee please) is standard, but not very specific. Jazz it up – and get what you really want – with pango poto (short black), mōwai (flat white), rate (latte), or pango roa (long black). Up the sweetness by ordering huka (sugar) and cut the calories with miraka kore kirīmi (trim milk).

Acing that zui

A hui is a meeting, and a zui is a hui on Zoom. Yeah, we’ve all been there. They can be hard to get off the ground or have fun with – so why not use some reo to increase engagement?

Handy phrases include kua ngū tō reo (you’re on mute) and kua raru taku hononga (my connection is bad). Can’t get enough of it? Use tukuna mai te tono hui (send me the meeting invite) to maximise your zui time. 

And if you usually do a team-building quiz to perk up the WFH vibes, why not test your collective reo knowledge instead?

Keeping kids (or mates!) motivated

Working and learning from home can be a challenge – and everyone needs encouragement sometimes. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, it’s always good to hear kei runga noa atu (you’re onto it), he tino toki koe (you’re a champion), anō te pai (fantastic), and me karawhiua (give it all you’ve got).

You can also use a kaikōhau (expression of hope) to really invoke good things for the future. Ngau mai ngā hua, nau mau ngā pai, nau mau kia nui, kia hāwere ai (welcome all things that have grown, welcome all things that are good, may they be plentiful and abundant) is a pretty good mantra to live by.

Stepping up your reo

If you find sentences a struggle but enjoy your daily hīkoi (walk), picking up some reo for the things you see can be a great way to connect to Te Taiao (the natural world).

We all know tūī and pōhutukawa, but maybe you could pick up the indigenous names for the korimako (bellbird) and the koromiko (hebe), the kererū (wood pigeon) and the harakeke (flax). If you’re walking te huanui (a road) rather than te ara (a path), that’s OK too. You can still note the ngā motukā or waka (cars) and ngā whare (buildings) as you pass by.

Spreading the aroha

Feeling worried about the future or disconnected from friends and whānau can be challenging. If you’re not able to meet up right now, why not express your manaakitanga (support, kindness) with te reo?

You could really lift someone’s day with ko koe a tuahangata (you’re my hero), ko koe taku toka tū moana (you’re my rock), or me kore ake koe (we’re so lucky to have you). Even just a simple ngā mihi nui (thank you so much) or kia pai te rā (have a good day) could mean the world to your best friend – or a stranger. Spread the aroha!

If that all seems a bit hard right now, kāore he raru! No worries! Maybe listening to some waiata will be the perfect way for you to get your reo fix this week. You can explore Waiata/Anthems performed by some of Aotearoa’s best-loved musicians here.

Engari ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati. Ki te kāpuia e kore e whati! If we stick to this and come together it can only be a good thing for us all. Kia kaha, te reo. And kia atawhai – be kind – te whānau.

You can check out how we’re working to make good on the promise of partnership enshrined in te Tiriti o Waitangi here

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