Māori Language Week kaupapa looks to top last year's efforts

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Māori Language Week kicks off today, marking almost 50 years since the Māori language petition to Parliament in 1972.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui says he vividly remembers this pivotal time in Māori history.

“I can remember being at school in Te Araroa when it happened, and then in 1973-74 all of a sudden we started learning Te Reo Māori at school …. This was interesting because growing up we were taught to speak English only and told that learning Māori was a waste of time …"

Māori Language Week officially began in 1975 and has been celebrated every year since, with an emphasis on September 14 at 12pm – marking the exact date and time of the petition's arrival in 1972.  

Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori, who spearheads the kaupapa, is attempting to top last year’s efforts in which one million New Zealanders signed up to the Māori language moment.

"We’re a bit below that this year because of the impact of Covid, and because a sizable chunk of the student population is not going to school, here in Auckland.

“So, although it doesn’t look likely we will beat last year's efforts, I think we are doing pretty well given our circumstances.”

People can register for the Māori language moment before midday Tuesday, September 14 here.