Half a million New Zealanders are set to make history in the inaugural Māori Language Moment this Monday, organisers of the event, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, said in a statement today.
The Māori Language Commission, which wants to get one million people speaking, singing and celebrating te reo at the same time in an unprecedented Māori Language Moment for Māori Language Week 2020, are asking Aotearoa to "go hard" to reach for the aspirational goal.
“Never before have this many people gathered to celebrate te reo Māori. We are making history this Monday. But why stop there? Let’s go hard and reach 1 million,” says commission chief executive Ngahiwi Apanui.
“As the great New Zealander Tā Hēmi Hēnare said: "We have come too far not to go further, we have done too much, not to do more: Tawhiti rawa i tō tatou haerenga atu te kore haere tonu."
By 10am on Saturday, the Māori Language Moment's website running tally showed that 519,038 people had signed up already, with two days to go. While most are from New Zealand, thousands are also joining from overseas, from Australia to the United States, Scotland, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Denmark, the statement says.
“We’re absolutely amazed, ecstatic and quite emotional to see more than 500,000 champions of te reo Māori will join us on Monday,” says Apanui.
“We set a goal of 1 million for our moment because we are aiming to see 1 million speakers of te reo by 2040: it’s not too late to join us.”
The website sign-up website has struggled to cope with the rate of people signing up, at one stage people were joining and uploading photos and their “wai or why” they’re joining up every few seconds.
“It’s an emotional read for us to go through the reasons people are signing up. Māori New Zealanders sharing photos of their children, grandchildren or parents and grandparents. Pākeha people telling us te reo is part of their identity as a New Zealander that they’re proud of. New migrants telling us that te reo is something that makes them feel so grateful to be a new New Zealander and they want to be good Treaty partners.
“The country is going through some of our toughest times right now and we are rallying together behind a language that was once banned and shunned.
“The week hasn’t even begun and we are already feeling so proud of Aotearoa. Kia kaha te reo Māori! Kia kaha Aotearoa!"