Papa honoured for championing revitalisation of te reo

By Jessica Tyson

Pānia Papa has devoted most of her life to the revitalisation of te reo Māori to ensure the language will flourish for future generations. In honour of her mahi, she was awarded the Te Waitī Award for Te Reo and Tikanga at the 2019 Matariki Awards this evening.

Papa, of Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura and Ngāti Mahuta, is not a native speaker of te reo Māori and began learning at intermediate in Tokoroa.  Her passion for te reo Māori has led her to become an award-winning television presenter, Māori language consultant, curriculum and resource designer, translator, editor for the broadcasting industry and more.

She has a vast array of experience in education and the media and is well-known to Māori Television audiences as the host on te reo Māori educational shows including Ako and Ōpaki.

In 2016 Papa was appointed to the 13-member Board of Te Mātāwai, in charge of leading the revitalisation of the Māori language.

Papa is currently a member of the Waikato-Tainui Reo Advisory Group, working to implement the Waikato-Tainui iwi language strategy. She was a member of the advisory group that reviewed the Raukawa iwi language strategy in 2015 and the Ngāti Kahungunu iwi language strategy in 2014.

Papa is a director of Takatū Associates Limited focusing on innovations in Māori language education and broadcasting; and assistant director of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language.

She was a member of the independent panel that reviewed the Crown’s Māori Language Strategy in 2011 and was on the Māori Language Quality Assurance Group overseeing the translation of Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori.

Papa is also a former Silver Ferns team member who played for the team in the early 90s.


Finalists for the 2019 Te Waitī Award for Te Reo and Tikanga award were Kupu App and Christchurch restaurant Fush.

Kupu is a Spark-sponsored app that uses the camera in your phone to instantly translate objects into Te Reo Māori.

The key advisor for Kupu was Dr. Dean Mahuta, senior lecturer at AUT and Māori language researcher at Te Ipukarea, the National Māori Language Institute. Nuku is the first learning tool to translate pictures in real-time.

Fush is a whānau owned seafood restaurant in the heart of Wigram Skies, Christchurch. The owner-operator Anton Matthews hosts te reo Māori classes at the restaurant. 

The restaurant also encourages the use of te reo Māori by offering bilingual English-Maori menus and using te reo phrases with their customers.