National | Māori Language Commission

Aotearoa's battle to save Te Reo Māori: Call for stories

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Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori is calling for help collecting stories, images and memories that trace the ongoing battle to save the Māori language.

“The battle for the survival of te reo Māori has been fought by generations of people, in our smallest towns to our biggest cities. On our televisions, in our schools, at our workplaces: and importantly in our own homes. Those stories need to be told and saved,” Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Commissioner, Professor Rawinia Higgins says.

“We are keen for young New Zealanders to interview their parents and elders: What was it like in Aotearoa when they were growing up? Where did they see or hear te reo?"

The Māori Language Commission's request comes as Aotearoa marks 50 years since the Māori language petition was presented, and 35 years since te reo became an official language and Te Taura Whiri opened its doors.

“This year marks some significant milestones so we are encouraging individuals, families and communities to share a story, memory or memento that help tell the stories of the battle for our country’s first language.”

Other significant anniversaries this year include 50 years since Matatini began (under another name), 40 years since the first kōhanga reo, and several iwi radio stations will also celebrate individual anniversaries.

Higgins says 2022 will also see the first Matariki public holiday, something the commission began lobbying for more than 20 years ago.

“From the days when it was banned, to protest marches and petitions, Treaty of Waitangi claims, counter claims and cases taken to the Privy Council and back: the battle for te reo was waged everywhere from our dinner tables to the highest courts on earth. It is a taonga for all New Zealanders to cherish, now and into the future.”

The commission will launch its 2022 digital platform next month.