Language symposium aims to revitalise te reo and Moriori

By Marena Mane

Te Kaiaotanga o Te Reo is the first Māori language symposium to be held at the top of the South Island.

Iwi and Te Reo Māori champions gathered in Nelson over the weekend to collaborate and share their ideas on revitalisation. 

They focused on supporting rangatahi to regain their reo and cultural identity.

Kiwa Hammond, the spokesperson for Mōriori on Te Pae Motuhake o Te Tai Tonga, the regional advisory board, which covers Te Waipounamu and Rēkohu Wharekauri, says the symposium had a big emphasis on rangatahi and a variety of reo champions, not just language exponents but those who have been “championing the cause of language revitalisation and regeneration” were there.

“It's not that everyone should be expected to be a mātanga reo (language exponent). I think that was quite reassuring to people to know that you don't have to be a certain type of person to be a champion of te reo.”

When it comes to starting and carrying out "kaupapa reo," Hammond believes that Rēkohu Wharekauri confront 10 times the problems of those in the North Island experience.

“You have a very small group of people who are trying to do amazing things at a distance.” 

According to Hammond, the summit allowed them to witness the successes, obstacles, and accomplishments of what has occurred thus far.

“Through Te Mātāwai funding came the launch of the Mōriori language app, which is available online for people to download, and that gives people a hint of the uniqueness, the unique nature of the Mōriori, and some of the phrases and terms we use.”

Hammond says future reo endeavours, such as Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori, must be Māori-led and free of external influences.