Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and PSA members

Celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, 27 July to 2 August 2015.

A recent bilingual signage project in Gisborne.

A recent bilingual signage project in Gisborne between NZ Police, St John Ambulance, NZ Fire Service and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori unveiled this trial signage on a waka tūroro (ambulance) and a waka patu ahi (fire appliance).

PSA president Mike Tana reflects on the importance of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

This is a momentuous year – 40 years of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, of Māori language regeneration. The PSA acknowledges the significant changes that have occurred in New Zealand society during this time.
When my father was a boy, he was punished for speaking his parent’s language, te reo Māori, in school and when I was in school I had very little opportunity to learn the language myself. Yet now my children all go to a kura where they are learning to speak Māori fluently.

At the beginning of the 19th century, te reo Māori was the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, with Māori communities speaking and worshipping in Māori up until World War II. The use of the Māori
language declined and was almost lost as more and more English speakers arrived in New Zealand. Its revival has been built on the foundation of te reo Māori being recognised as an official language of New
Zealand in 1987 as it regained its mana as a taonga of Māori. Who would have anticipated in 1975, the growth of kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, or Māori language on the airwaves on radio and television?

Agencies such as Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori work with government agencies to give effect to both legislative and high-level policy drivers, such as the Māori Language Strategy, that seek to make Māori language a living, visible part of New Zealand society.

At work this might mean considering how Māori is embraced as an official language. Key questions might be: What Māori language skills are required in our organisation? In my role? In what ways can I show my
stakeholders, customers and colleagues that Māori language is valued in our organisation?

There are many agency-based initiatives that respond to some of these questions such as in-house Māori language training; Māori language information and campaign material; guidance on Māori language styles and conventions for print and communications; and the use of bilingual signage. These are all great ways of communicating that te reo is valued and used as a part of normal operations.

I encourage all PSA members to celebrate 40 years of Māori Language Week. This special week offers us a time to reflect on the gains that we have achieved for the nation and to actively engage with and support Te Wiki o te Reo Māori at work, in the community and at home.

My dream is that we won’t be celebrating te reo Māori for one week of year, but that it takes its place as a true taonga of our country and is spoken and celebrated all year round.

Piki mai ki runga i te kaupapa o te reo Māori.