The first 'te reo Māori' capital city in the world

By Tema Hemi

A formal agreement has been signed between the Wellington City Council and the Māori Language Commission.

The two organisations will work together on projects across the whole of Wellington but with a primary focus on the city centre, and in public events, research, and promoting te reo Māori.

A much-needed partnership to put the building blocks in place for a New Zealand that proudly speaks te reo Māori.

Te Taurawhiri i te reo Māori CE Ngahiwi Apanui says, "This is the beginning of a working relationship together with the nation's communities to better incorporate and implement the Maihi Karauna strategy. So in the last 31 years we have learnt that Māori alone cannot ensure the survival of the Māori language - hence this partnership."

Mayor Justin Lester wants his city to be the first 'Te Reo Māori Capital City' of the world. A major aspiration to elevate the status of the Māori language to greater global heights.

Lester says, "We've been working really closely with Te Taura Whiri for a number of months now and our ambition is joint and that is making Wellington the first te reo capital, the first te reo city in the entire world. And we recognise that we can achieve that better in a partnership."

A successful campaign throughout the Te Matatini ki te Ao festival helped to get things rolling and provided a glimpse into what was possible for the future of this partnership.  

"That was a real focus for our city. We saw the huge public support we had across Wellington," Lester says. 

Apanui says, "When all the visitors from around the nation arrived in to Wellington, they could see they city's passion for the language. And that should apply to all of the nations cities so that visitors may see that we are a city that really values the language."

As part of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Māori Language Commission have organised seven youth workshops in June to receive input on their thoughts on the revival of te reo Māori.