Basque linguist exchanges language strategies with Māori

By Talisa Kupenga

A linguist from Basque is in New Zealand to exchange language revitalisation strategies with Māori. He's already met with Māori figureheads including Timoti Karetu to equip him with new tools to help strengthen his language.

Basque Native Imanol Miner Aristizabal is broadcasting knowledge about his language with a goal to make it stronger.

"We are struggling to normalise the language for the whole of our society."

Like Te Reo Māori the Basque language was close to extinction. But in 50 years the number of speakers has grown to 1-million worldwide, with 23 percent of Basque's population now able to speak the language.

"I came to Wellington to interview The Kohanga Reo Trust, Te Taura Whiri and other activists. For me, it was an opportunity to see how we were doing and how you are doing and to share information and to share points of views."

Imanol learned to speak English while living in New Zealand 14-years ago. He says attitudes here towards Te Reo Māori have changed more positively since then.

"Fourteen years ago Māori and the reo Māori revival process was focused on the Māori community and I realise they are not anymore. Things have started changing and opening. More Pākehā are learning Te Reo Māori and Māori is becoming more accepted by the whole society."

Among other challenges, Imanol is focussing on normalising the Basque language in the workplace.