Te reo Māori pioneers celebrated at Māori language honours

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

Pioneering te reo Māori movements and milestones were celebrated at this year’s Māori language honours - Ngā Kākā Kura o te Reo Māori - on Friday evening in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Co-hosted by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori and Te Mātāwai, Ngā Kākā Kura o te Reo Māori acknowledged outstanding contributions and hard-fought wins to revive the Māori language, dating back more than 50 years when te reo Māori was in danger of dying out.

“It’s wonderful to be here acknowledging those language activists who laid the foundations for the revitalisation of te reo Māori," said Ngāhiwi Apanui, chief executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, in a statement.

“We believe that te reo Māori is New Zealand's language and a language for all New Zealanders. The achievements over the last 50 years give us hope of achieving the goal of one million speakers of te reo Māori by 2040.”

Those honoured at the event included the Kōhanga Reo movement, which marked its 40th anniversary, Te Matatini, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, radio station Te Reo Irirangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika, and Ngā Kaiwhakapūmau i te Reo.

Te Mātāwai chief executive Professor Poia Rewi said the future of te reo Māori for iwi, hapū and whānau in communities is in a good state but requires fostering.

“The success of the Māori language revitalisation movement hinges on the continuing goodwill of many people volunteering their time, energy, and expertise.

“While community leaders and Māori language proponents are certainly adept at creating conditions for language acquisition despite scant resourcing, we must be acutely aware of the limits to this energy,” said Rewi.

WATCH Ngā Kākā Kura o te Reo livestream