Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Speaking the Language

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu promotional material It’s Maori Language Week again – something that has occurred in New Zealand every year since 1975. It’s a time to celebrate Maori language (te Reo Maori) and this year it runs from July 21-27 with the theme te Reo i te kainga – Maori language in the home. When I was in the Ngai Tahu offices here in Christchurch this morning, I was lucky enough to see parts of a video that has been prepared as part of the Ngai Tahu language initiatives. I also picked up this brochure, prepared as part of Ngai Tahu’s Generation Reo campaign, Kotahi Mano Kaika, Kotahi Mano Wawata (One thousand homes, one thousand aspirations), which was established to raise awareness of and an appreciation for Maori language among Ngai Tahu people. There has been a huge resurgence in te Reo Maori, especially since New Zealand officially became a bilingual nation in 1987. Generation Reo is all about encouraging families to speak Maori at home and it’s about a whole lot more than just giving the next generation a second language; it’s also about strengthening identity and saving another of the world’s languages from extinction. As someone who is passionate about language fullstop, I find it very gratifying to see Ngai Tahu, as just one iwi (tribe) on a mission to restore te Reo Maori within homes. As their promotional material points out, “it takes one generation to lose a language and three generations to revive it.”

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