Northland language enthusiasts looking to revitalise tribal dialects

By Raniera Harrison

Northland language enthusiasts are looking to revitalise their dialects.

"We've put the invite to fluent and proficient speakers that continue to upskill," says head tutor at Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau, Evelyn Tobin.

Different dialects of the North are being put through their respective paces at the fifth annual Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau tribal language acquisition wānanga today. Moerewa School is hosting the event, with a clear and direct reasoning for its existence.

"How do we support the development of the language in those who have yet to develop an affinity for it? That's where the biggest gap is" adds teacher, Ruki Tobin.

Organisers say that the 65 students in attendance over the duration of the 4-day camp are aware of the concerns raised. Traditional speakers on marae Paepae and kai-karanga are also under threat within the region. 

"The presence at the majority of our marae is thin. It is a sign of the times. However, I am happy knowing a new generation is coming," says Ms Tobin.

Organisers suggest the wait may not be as long as expected, with a healthy number of participants actively challenging statistics of reo Māori speakers in Northland.

The next instalment of this tribal language wānanga will take place this time next year.