Ngā Tohu Reo Māori o Te Tai Tokerau

By Tumamao Harawira

It has been a long road but for those who have been running Māori Language revitalisation initiatives in Te Tai Tokerau, there will be an opportunity to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into these initiatives in the last year with Ngā Tohu Reo Māori o Te Tai Tokerau.

Eli Smith and Moana Aroha-Henry have been charged with bringing together different groups, people, and initiatives to celebrate Te Reo in Te Tai Tokerau and Smith says language revitalisation is often a lonely road.

"We have long travelled this road, we have long fought the struggle of our forefathers for those of us here at home. What we are doing is gathering together all those different avenues in the revitalisation of the language."

Aroha-Henry, a former pupil at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe says, "These initiatives were started because of the love for the language, the love from whānau and hapu throughout Te Tai Tokerau."

The Māori Language awards are being run under Te Mātāwai and are an opportunity to celebrate the language in Northland. Eight categories are open to those that are making a contribution to language revitalisation within the Northland region.

Celebration of uniqueness

Aroha-Henry is astounded by some of the kaupapa that have been started long before Te Mātāwai funding was even available: "We know that some of these kaupapa were started by whānau and the money come from their own pockets."

Smith says these kaupapa were not started for money, "those wānanga being done by whānau, hapu and iwi, those wānanga that are revitalising their taumata kōrero and their pae karanga."

One of the major themes seen within the North is the young age of a lot of people involved with language revitalisation. Many people involved aren't anywhere near the age of 40.

"It was our forefathers who spilled blood, who laboured, they fought the fight of their time. So us of my generation, we are just carrying on those things," Smith says.

Aroha-Henry says this is the result of the efforts of many generations to get the language to this point. "This is the result of kura kupapa Māori and kohanga reo and the hopes of our elders. I know that as I have come from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe."

Nominations for the Māori Language awards in Northland close on October 31 and the awards will be held on  November 27.

Award categories:

  • hapori | community
  • whānau | family
  • pāpāho | broadcasting
  • toi | arts and entertainment
  • pakihi | business
  • mātauranga | education
  • taiao | environment
  • marae