Record for biggest te reo Māori celebration yet

By Jessica Tyson

More than one million people made history by coming together to celebrate te reo Māori yesterday as part of an event organised by Te Taurā Whiri, the Māori Language Commission.

People registered online with the commission to take part in the Māori Language Moment event at noon where they had the choice to either speak, sing, play te reo Māori games, listen to the language, read or learn te reo Māori.

The event was held as part of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week, marking the day and hour when a small group of language champions presented the Māori Language Petition to Parliament in 1972.

Māori Language Commissioner Professor Rawinia Higgins says the Māori Language Moment was the largest, single celebration of te reo Māori in history.

“We have never had this many people celebrating our language together at the same time. We would like to pay tribute to those across Aotearoa and the world, our smallest towns to our largest cities, our elderly to our babies who joined us today.”

The website saw more than 500,000 people join in the last three days. The last hour before 12pm saw the commission’s websites and online Zuimano struggle to cope.

Commission chief executive, Ngahiwi Apanui said the virtual whare struggled to cope as more than a million language champions arrived to celebrate te reo.

“But we found room and everyone was with us as we celebrated the Māori language, together. There are people still logging on to let us know they took part: because the site was unable to record them when they tried to sign up earlier in the day.”

More initiatives will take place across Aotearoa celebrating te reo Māori this week. A new website will provide support to learners throughout the year. 

So far 1,024,768 recorded their Maōri Language Moment and people can still sign up online.